Community Outreach » Loaves and Fishes

  • ATTENTION - The Next Loaves and Fishes at
    Saint Celestine will be on February 28 at 6:30 pm

The Loaves and Fishes is a Ministry that provides a hot meal on Wednesday Nights from October through April in our Saint Celestine Parish for those in need.

How does the program work?

  • Our "guests" are the hungry in our communities and may include the homeless, families trying to make ends meet, and individuals seeking company at meal time. Guests are invited into the buildings at 6:15 pm.
  • Meals are served 4 nights a week at the following churches:
Monday United Methodist Church Church
Elmwood Park
Tuesday Resurrection Lutheran Church
Franklin Park
Wednesday Saint Celestine Catholic Church
Elmwood Park
Friday Saint Beatrice Catholic Church
Schiller Park
  • Meals are provided by cooking teams, who plan, purchase, cook and serve the meals; and also clean up after meal. All meals must be prepared on-site according to health department sanitation standards as much as possible.
  • Teams usually arrive at the serving sites at 5 pm to begin meal preparation. Serving begins at 6:30 pm and continues until 7:30 pm.
  • The program is run entirely by volunteers. Cooking teams include members of area churches including the three serving sites, Northlake Lutheran Church, St. Paul's United Church of Christ, St. Maria Goretti, and Trinity Presbyterian. Other groups that volunteer include Boy Scout troops, Cub Scout packs, Girl Scout troops, as well as Key Club and National Honor Society students from East and West Leyden High Schools, Guerin Preparatory High School and Elmwood Park High School.
  • Meals are nutritionally-balanced and include meat, vegetables, salad, fruit and dairy as this meal may be the only one guests eat that day. We don't try to establish a set menu rotation. However, cooking teams have gotten very creative in their use of ground beef and chicken.
  • Volunteers have served as many as 60 guests in a night but usually average 25-30. Loaves and Fishes was called on to help feed the folks left homeless from the Mannheim Road hotel fire several years ago when 60 to 70 people were fed.
  • In 2001, meals were also served on Christmas Day and New Years' Day when the need was ascertained and the volunteers willing!
  • Donations from area businesses are always welcome. For instance, one site obtains bread from Sam's Club on a weekly basis. However, we are not allowed to accept food that has already been prepared or is leftover from another event.
  • Donations from local community groups such as Kiwanis, the Rotary, and Lions Clubs have helped to purchase necessary equipment as well as food, paper goods and beverages. Other income to support the program has come from the community Ecumenical Thanksgiving services in Elmwood Park, Franklin Park, and Northlake as well as from "Souper Bowl Sunday", a national program to raise funds to combat hunger.
  • Through clothing drives, we have also tried to provide warm coats and other clothing to our guests.
  • Loaves and Fishes is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of clergy and lay persons from the volunteer churches. Additional planning support is always welcome.
  • Our future plans are to try to develop a shelter system in this area in partnership with PADS.

Loaves and Fishes Program History

1995 - Clergy and laypersons from various churches meet to consider how to help the hungry in Leyden Township. After twelve months of discussion, planning and prayer, the Loaves and Fishes program is created.

1996 - Two sites are established initially to prepare and serve hot evening meals: Resurrection Lutheran Church (Franklin Park) and Apostles' Lutheran Church (unincorporated Leyden Township). Saint Celestine Catholic Church (Elmwood Park) begins serving in October 1996.

1997 - The Elmwood Park United Methodist Church becomes a site. The Loaves and Fishes program operates four nights per week, October through March.

1998 - Monthly board meetings lead to the improvement of the overall organization and coordination of the program. The responsibilities of participants are clarified: board members, volunteer coordinators, site managers, team leaders, cooking teams and other personnel.

1999 - Northlake Lutheran Church expresses interest in becoming a site but is rejected by the Health Department due to the lack of the proper dishwashing set-up.

2000 - First United Methodist Church (Franklin Park) becomes a serving site on Friday nights.

2001 - The serving season is extended from October through the end of May.

2002 - Over 4,000 meals were served at the five sites during the eight-month season.

2005 - P.A.D.S. program was established at Resurrection Lutheran Church (Franklin Park).

2006 - St. Celestine Parish is happy to continue being involved in this ministry. We are starting our 10th year!

2008 - Saint Celestine Teen Ministry and the Knights of Columbus joined with Loaves and Fishes to provide lunches for the P.A.D.S. program at Resurrection.

2009 - The serving season has joined the P.A.D.S. program and serves meals from October through the end of April.

2010 - Saint Beatrice Parish becomes a serving site on Friday Night.

2011 - Saint Celestine Parish continues to serve in its 15th year.