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Loaves and Fishes Culinary Program
Loaves and Fishes Culinary Program
Loaves and Fishes Culinary Program
Loaves and Fishes Culinary Program

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The Latest News From Our Executive Director
Joleen Lafayette

   The year is off to a great start and it warms my heart to be the Executive Director here at Loaves and Fishes, especially when people say, “Thank you” or I ask them how lunch was today and they reply, “really good, thank you!” It is rare for Loaves and Fishes to receive a complaint about the meals we serve. We are not perfect, but I can truly say Chef James does a great job preparing 650-700 meals every day!

   It’s never too late to make Loaves and Fishes a part of your New Year’s resolutions. A resolution of mine is to reconnect with old friends, whether that’s from high school, childhood friends or simply friends and family that I don’t see enough. For the wider community, Loaves and Fishes can fulfill the resolution of “giving back.” Loaves and Fishes depends on the community to help make our mission possible here in Contra Costa County. Hunger and food insecurity affect people of all ages, races and genders, and it could be affecting someone in your neighborhood. There is no one face of food insecurity. The need varies among children, older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, the working poor and many more. With Loaves and Fishes in your community, no one should be hungry. Our doors are always open; ready to serve a hot meal in a warm place. As the Executive Director I want Loaves and Fishes to do more for our clients. Some of my long-term goals to assist our clients are to have a Case Manager on staff, partner with other agencies, open more dining rooms and work together with other Contra Costa County nonprofits to expand the resources we offer to our clients.

   The last two years I have spent many hours working on our Culinary Program and making it successful. The Culinary Staff, Chef Ted Elsner and Dawn Thompson, have done a great job educating students and leading them to graduation. We have had 17 students graduate from the program and 12 of them were assisted in either getting a job or doing something that gave them a new opportunity for a career pathway. It warms my heart to watch the students over the 10-week session. Their culinary skills develop, but also towards the end of class it’s rewarding to witness their confidence levels build, team work develop, friendships made, barriers broken and at graduation many thankful family and friends present to cheer on the graduates. This is a rewarding experience for all!

   Both Loaves and Fishes programs (food and culinary) need your support. Let us help you fulfill the need of giving back to your community. There’s plenty of room for our community to join in, we depend on more than 100 volunteers each week to support our services and our donors are the financial backbone that keeps us going. Join us in helping those in need living in your community!


Joleen Lafayette
Executive Director