Tara Bone, contributing writer
Since 2010, on the first and third Saturday of every month at Logan’s Presbyterian Church, people from all walks of life, religions, ages, neighborhoods, businesses, sports teams, and even hairdresser coalitions have come together to share free meals that nourish both body and spirit.
Known as Loaves and Fishes, this special Cache Valley program is powered by volunteers and a passionate board of directors whose goal is to build stronger relationships in our community. Everyone is invited to every meal, not only to share needed food but also to make friends.
Bobbi Crabtree has been a Loaves and Fishes volunteer for about 12 years and currently serves on the organization’s board of directors and as the volunteer coordinator.
She says over the years she’s repeatedly witnessed the benefits of people from diverse communities sharing a table and conversation.
“Sometimes it’s the only two meals in a month someone doesn’t eat alone,” Bobbi said. “We’re like old friends.”
In the beginning, Loaves and Fishes provided about 50 to 75 meals each dinner. Today it provides 200 meals most Saturdays and 400 during the holidays. Food for meals is donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint Bishops’ Storehouse, the Cache Community Food Pantry, and a variety of other local business. Loaves and Fishes also relies on donations for equipment and other food items.
Volunteers are at the heart of the Loaves and Fishes community and are encouraged to join in the meal. Bobbi says they love volunteers and she emphasizes that even children can volunteer.
Each week a group of 25 to 35 people is scheduled, and there are still available volunteer dates in 2024.
Each October at the Loaves and Fishes annual meeting, large groups, such as churches or businesses, indicate priority dates they’d like to volunteer. Sometimes smaller groups are paired, and individual volunteers are included on an email list and notified when more volunteers are needed for a particular meal. Bobbi says summer meals can be challenging to fill and holiday meals are special opportunities because many volunteers are needed.
Wayne Crabtree is also a longtime volunteer with Loaves and Fishes, a former board member, and happens to be Bobbi’s husband. Wayne and Bobbi enjoy volunteering together and sharing the experience with others.
Wayne says he loves seeing first-time volunteers or those coming for a meal for the first time who are tentative at first, eventually relax, make friends, and feel welcome. They have many return volunteers who love the atmosphere.
He says there’s a special energy of friendship during the meals and adds that often volunteers provide music and sometimes dancing. Singers, drummers, fiddlers, and even bands have shared their talents and received warm receptions.
“We don’t always have entertainment,” Wayne said. “But I love it when possible because it makes the environment like afestival!”
Whether seeking a warm meal and friendship, an opportunity to volunteer, or even share talents, Loaves and Fishes is a place to feel belonging. The Loaves and Fishes Turkey Feast is scheduled for November 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bobbi invites volunteers and friendship seekers alike to attend anytime.
“We love it,” she said. “It’s so much fun, and we hope people will come out to experience it!”