We’ve all heard the story of how Jesus used five meager loaves of bread and two fish to feed the five thousand, and it’s a miracle that still astounds and inspires us. So representational is it in the ways that it illustrates how even the smallest things can have such an impact that it motivates individuals and communities all over the world to use their own “loaves and fishes” to make a difference. It was those very loaves and fishes, in fact, that stirred a few compassionate and faith-filled ladies from Trinity Episcopal Church to begin serving soup to the needy souls of Clarksville in 1983, soon growing their mission of outreach from a Wednesday ladling of love to a daily lunch that would nourish the many hungry members of the community. Partnering up with other like-minded volunteers from First Presbyterian Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and Madison Street United Methodist, an organization took shape, shedding denominational divisions to unite as Loaves and Fishes, focusing their hands and hearts on the common goal of feeding their very own “five thousand.”
“We’re fulfilling God’s mission to feed the hungry,” says board member Jill Crow, who works so whole-heartedly alongside with other team members who have taken up this challenge.
“There are so many people in Clarksville and Montgomery County in need, and by feeding them, we’re making a difference in their lives.”
More than 30 years after its humble beginnings offering “Hot Meal: Hot Soup and Bread” on a sign hung outside a church, Loaves and Fishes is still going strong, fortified in its efforts by numerous area partners, volunteers, and generous donors who recognize the very real need faced by millions of people every day. “The most powerful gift Loaves and Fishes has are our volunteers,” says Crow. “They make Loaves and Fishes possible. We have over 250 volunteers who cook, clean, serve food, answer phones, and drive the trucks that are vital to our operations to pick up donated food from area businesses. We have so many people already involved in this effort, but the need is a huge one; and we always welcome more volunteers and invite the community to get involved.”
Even in this land of plenty, there are many who struggle to feed themselves and their families.
And so Loaves and Fishes serves on, collecting food donations to distribute to more than 38 agencies in addition the meals that are cooked in the kitchen it now operates at First Presbyterian Church Activities and Outreach Center. Nearly 50,000 meals are provided on an annual basis by the talented cooks who man the stoves; and as each dish is placed on the table before someone who hungers, it becomes more than just food—it becomes a blessing and a reminder that they are truly loved.
Loaves and Fishes is located at 215 Foster Street, Clarksville, Tennessee 37040. Soup Kitchen meals are served from 10:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m., Monday- Saturday. Donations are accepted from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Monday- Saturday. Want to mail them a donation? Send all mailed donations to PO Box 3241, Clarksville, TN 37043. For more information on making donations or becoming involved, call (931) 645-9020 or visit www.loavesandfishestn.org