The Founders’ Story:
5Loaves2Fish was founded by Michelle and Bill White. Michelle tells how it came to be. “I met Melissa in 2017. She came to my Art and Soul North table at Central United Methodist Church every week. We became friends and I learned how much she cares for the people in her community, particularly her friends on the street. She knows that life. She has been there.
In March, 2020 when everything shut down due to Covid-19, many of the services available to our outreach folds started to dwindle. Melissa called me in a panic, saying ‘We need to feed our people.’ We started cooking, loaded up the car, and went to meet Melissa. We met in parking lots and passed the food to her to deliver. She knew where to go. It is because of Melissa that 5Loaves2Fish is here. Never underestimate the power of love! Thank you Melissa.”
We soon learned that many in our community are often hungry. Forty percent of the population of Leelanau County battles hunger or food insecurity on a regular basis. A small group of dedicated volunteers and supporters quickly stepped in to help – and they have not stopped.
Jane Lippert, Community Outreach Coordinator at Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City, helped 5Loaves2FishNMI to reach the right people. Her church has several programs to serve the region’s vulnerable population.
Lippert told the Leelanau Ticker, “I knew we needed someone to help feed the community on Monday nights, and in came Michelle, a dreamer with the ability to make this come true. Her passion comes first, and then she finds the mechanics.”
Lippert adds that of those they are currently serving meals to in the greater Grand Traverse region, approximately two-thirds are without housing, and one-third have housing but – because of financial insecurity and other factors such as depression – “any help they can get with meals is good.”
No questions are asked of anyone. As Michelle says, “The big thing for us is to maintain dignity. You are in a circumstance. I don’t need to know your circumstances. I just want to be there to help you. I don’t care what your problem is.”
Where We Are Now:
We serve people in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties, who are hungry or who live with food insecurity.
Homemade meals are served:
Mondays at 5:00 PM at Veterans’ Park (year-round), 11th St. and Elmwood Ave., Traverse City
Mondays at 6:00 PM at Safe Harbor (November – April) 517 Wellington St., Traverse City
Mondays at Leelanau Christian Neighbors (pre-packaged meals-to-go available)
Tuesdays at Empire Food Pantry (pre-packaged meals-to-go available)
Wednesdays from 4pm-6pm at the Friendship Community Center in Suttons Bay (pre-packaged meals to go).
Thursdays from 4pm-6pm at the Bethany Lutheran Church in Northport (pre-packaged meals to go)
Looking for meal sites and pantries in the region? Check out the Northwest Food Coalition’s website: https://northwestfoodcoalition.org/food-pantries
No questions are asked of anyone. “The big thing for us is to maintain dignity. You are in a circumstance. I just want to be there to help you. I don’t care what your problem is.”