by Nancy Couch

It’s almost 9AM on a Tuesday morning and the doors to the market at Loaves & Fishes Community Services are about to open for the day. The volunteers have assembled, some arriving almost two hours earlier to stock shelves. Between 25 and 35 clients already wait patiently in the lobby. All await the experience of shopping in our well-stocked, client-choice market. Upon entering the market, it looks like a suburban grocery store, filled with the needs of families.

During this Season of Giving, the need is great. More than 900 struggling families from Naperville and DuPage County visit the market for food each week. Over 3,200 holiday meal packages will be distributed between mid-November and year-end. Holiday meals will be personally delivered to seniors who do not have access to transportation. These meals place an emphasis on proteins, whole grains fruits, and vegetables – all part of a healthy diet.

Giving back to the community is vital to the over 1,500 volunteers of Loaves & Fishes, who donated a total of 97,000 hours last year (the equivalent of 47 full-time employees). It provides us with the opportunity and privilege to serve our neighbors with honor and dignity. Volunteers often remark, “I receive much more than I give.” Yes, that is true. Loaves & Fishes is life-changing, for both clients and volunteers.

The core values of Loaves & Fishes are Community, Compassion, Dignity, Hope, and Service. We take these values seriously in that we integrate them into our daily service. We recognize that our backgrounds may be diverse, but we all share the same goal: Ending hunger and transforming lives in our community.

Nancy Couch is a longtime Volunteer Leader and Community Advocate at Loaves & Fishes Community Services. If you would like to learn more about Loaves & Fishes visit, loaves-fishes.org or email info@loaves-fishes.org.

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