“Loaves and Fishes shares God’s love by providing food, clothing, and community to our neighbors in a safe and welcoming space.”
Brief History of Loaves and Fishes
Loaves and Fishes was founded in the early 1980s as a response to the growing number of our neighbors who were looking for food at St. Paul and St. James. Hanne Howard, a longtime parishioner, started stocking the church office with canned goods so that those at the church could offer something to those who came to the church looking for help. Over time the ministry grew as St. Paul and St. James became a place that our neighbors looked to as a place of respite. More food was needed, and so volunteers started picking up larger quantities of food from the Connecticut Food Bank. Over the years Loaves and Fishes has operated out of several different spaces in the church, with each subsequent move based on growing attendance.
Now serving regularly over 300 people, Loaves and Fishes currently occupies the undercroft of the church. Lead volunteers, known as, “captains” became necessary as Loaves and Fishes began to accept volunteers from outside of the parish. Beginning in the 1990s Loaves and Fishes hired our first executive director, Liz Cox, in order to better serve our neighbors. She shifted from giving out pre-bagged bundles of groceries to a system of choice, where our neighbors can take the groceries that best fit their dietary needs and cultural cooking habits. In the late 1990s our same neighbors who needed food also voiced a need for clothes. A retired priest, Joan Horwitt, inspired us to open a clothing closet that would act in conjunction with the food distribution, and the clothing closet continues to operate every Saturday. In her memory the closet is named Joan’s Closet.
Loaves and Fishes has grown to include donations and volunteers from surrounding churches, organizations, and businesses. This larger network has allowed us to increase the nutritional quality of the food that we are able to give out and the quality and quantity of clothes that are available.
From the beginning Loaves and Fishes has welcomed any of neighbors who wish to come in and share our food, clothing, and space. We remain committed to continuing to meet the needs of our neighbors, but also are cognizant of the root causes of poverty that create the disparities that bring our neighbors in our doors.
Our Organizational Structure
Volunteers: Every week anywhere between 20-35 volunteers join us to help distribute food and clothing. Our volunteers come from all over New Haven County and beyond and are the heart and soul of what keeps us open week in and week out. Volunteer with us!
Captains: Our captains are a dedicated group of volunteers who take on a leadership role on Saturday mornings and during the rest of the week handling logistics and administrative tasks that allow Loaves and Fishes to accommodate as many of our neighbors as necessary.
Executive Director: Our director handles fundraising, volunteer coordination, donations, networking, and advocacy work. You can contact our current director at firstname.lastname@example.org
Advisory Board: Our Advisory Board provides oversight, guidance, and wisdom to Loaves and Fishes and ensures the longevity and success of the programs that we offer.
Vestry: Since Loaves and Fishes is a ministry of St. Paul and St. James we operate under the purview of the vestry and look to it for sound advice.
Loaves and Fishes is a member of the Connecticut Food Bank and the an affiliate member of the New Haven Food Policy Council.