Groceries for Neighbors in Need
Q & A
Our organization thrives because of the support of our community. If you are interested in furthering our mission to feed the hungry in Charlotte, please read below.
- What is Loaves & Fishes?
Loaves & Fishes is a nonprofit emergency food pantry program which provides a week's worth of groceries to people in crisis in Charlotte Mecklenburg. Loaves & Fishes began in 1975 when a handful of people in our community recognized the growing hunger needs in our area and opened a single food pantry to address those needs. In 1975, Loaves & Fishes fed approximately 1,000 people. Since 1975, Loaves & Fishes has grown to a network of 19 pantries located throughout Mecklenburg County. Loaves & Fishes served 126,803 people in 2012.
- What is an emergency food program?
Loaves & Fishes was created to meet emergency food needs brought about by a crisis situation. Loaves & Fishes sees its mission as providing a hand up in a crisis, not a hand out which fosters dependency upon our program as a regular food source. Therefore, clients are screened to determine need and may only visit a pantry once every forty-five days to prevent dependency.
- How can an individual or family receive services?
Clients are served on a referral basis after careful screening, to assure that only those truly in need are served. Charlotte Mecklenburg Human Service Agencies, qualified ministries, local clergy, school counselors, and medical providers screen and evaluate cases. After screening, clients are sent to one of Loaves & Fishes' pantries to receive a week's worth of groceries for themselves and their family members.
- After receiving a referral to Loaves & Fishes, how do clients receive groceries and what type of food is provided?
Loaves & Fishes' is in the process of adapting a Client Choice model in each of our full size pantries. This model allows clients to come into the pantry and choose a specified number of foods from each food category based on family size (proteins, grains, vegetables, fruits, etc.). They receive enough groceries to prepare a week's worth of meals. Client Choice gives clients some control over the foods they choose rather than receiving prebagged groceries. It also requires clients to invest time in the process. The food categories and quantities were determined by a Registered Dietitian. Groceries include nonperishable food such as cereal, canned ravioli, vegetables, and fruit; perishable items such as fresh meat, eggs, cheese, and yogurt; and personal care items including toothbrushes, soap, and toilet paper.
- How often can someone visit Loaves & Fishes?
Clients may visit a Loaves & Fishes' pantry no more than once in forty-five days. Clients are encouraged to use Loaves & Fishes as an emergency food service, not as a regular food source. During 2012, more than forty percent of clients visited a pantry only once.
- Who works for Loaves & Fishes?
The vast majority of Loaves & Fishes' work is done by over 700 volunteers actively involved in our program. Their duties include purchasing food, stocking pantry shelves, portioning the food into requirements established by dietitians, and serving our clients. Volunteers staff the telephone center, which takes referrals and forwards them to the appropriate pantry to serve the client. Loaves & Fishes has a staff of seven full-time people and two part-time people. A Board of Directors sets policies and is responsible for fund raising.
- What is the difference between Loaves & Fishes and a food bank?
Loaves & Fishes is a network of emergency food pantries which provides food directly to hungry people in Mecklenburg County. A food bank, such as Second Harvest Food Bank, is a regional food recovery program which gathers and warehouses surplus products donated by the food industry. Food banks usually serve an entire region, and provide shopping privileges to emergency food programs like Loaves & Fishes and other non-profit agencies. Food banks do not feed hungry people directly, but rather distribute food via other agencies such as Loaves & Fishes, soup kitchens, and shelters.
- Is Loaves & Fishes a United Way Agency?
No. Because Loaves & Fishes fills such a basic need in our community providing emergency food - we have been fortunate to receive sufficient support from individuals, corporations and congregations concerned about local hunger issues, without becoming affiliated with any large regional or national organization.
- What are the sources of Loaves & Fishes food and funding?
Individual Donations, Corporations, Foundations, Congregations, Loaves & Fishes’ Annual February Food Drive/Scouting for Food, National Association of Letter Carrier’s Food Drive (annual food drive in May, co-sponsored by US Postal Service), Charlotte/CROP Hunger Walk (citywide fundraising walk in October), Thanksgiving Food Drive (area school food drives), Emergency Food and Shelter Program (total amount of fund is allocated to direct food purchases).
- Does Loaves & Fishes have an annual audit?
Yes. The accounting firm of Greer & Walker conducts our annual professional audit. Copies of the audit are on file at the Loaves & Fishes administrative office.
- What does Loaves & Fishes need?
Nonperishable foods (click here for priority needs list), volunteers, upright frost free freezers and refrigerators in good working condition, and funds to purchase food for clients and to subsidize warehouse and food delivery costs.
Please note that we cannot accept donations of home prepared food, refrigerators & freezers not in good working order, chest freezers, clothing or furniture.
- How do I conduct a food drive?
Loaves & Fishes is in need of food throughout the year. Click here for information on how to conduct a food drive.
- How do I get more information about Loaves & Fishes?
For more information about Loaves & Fishes, and how you, your business or organization can help with food contributions, tax-deductible donations, in-kind donations, and volunteer opportunities, please call or write:
Loaves & Fishes
P.O. Box 11234
Charlotte, NC 28220
P.O. Box 11234
Charlotte, NC 28220