2016 May 27
Letter to all:
Supporters and Volunteers
Re: Loaves and Fishes Termination of Operations
On Tuesday, May 19, 2016, the Board of Directors of Loaves and Fishes met to discuss the operations, financial situation and potential future of Loaves & Fishes Benevolent Society.
Loaves and Fishes has struggled for the past number of years with our lack of financial resources. We have had to sell some of our property to try and get a stable financial base but find that we are slowly eroding that base because we are unable to breakeven on our operations with the cash support we are receiving. We have attempted some resolutions but have not been able to turn things around. We are in a tough economy and there are many organizations competing for charitable contributions; therefore, it does not seem our situation is going to improve. We have had some success but nothing that is sustaining to our operations. This has created problems in maintaining our commitments and being fair to our staff that work just above the minimum wage and put in countless hours to ensure that we are providing the best service possible to our clients.
We have been able to provide services to the less fortunate because of the dedicated commitment of our staff along with the volunteers and donations that have been received. Regardless of the willingness of staff and volunteers, we still need cash resources to run the organization, pay staff, operating costs and meet some of the needs of those that are needing specific services.
We and, the Executive Committee, have been under significant pressure for some period of time in regards to our financial situation and staffing requirements. We have had discussions with other organizations but, at this time, there is no plan for anyone to come in and take over the valued work that we are performing. Currently, we are providing over 300 school lunches per day. Our meal times are full. We have more needs than ever in our Outreach program to assist individuals. It is unfortunate that we will not be able to continue to provide these services after June 30, 2016.
Our closure would have been much sooner, but, recognizing that this is a faith based ministry and that the work we have been involved with has been to follow our motto as explained by Mathew 25:35 ‘I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,’ we kept trying to improve our situation and get more involvement from our donors and the Church community. This has not happened.
We have tried to take action to operate within our resources and continue to provide this ministry. We have had limited success with some of our fund raisers but do not seem to be able to convince our governing authourities to include our organization in their grant allocations. Churches have provided some assistance, about $30,000 per year, but the majority of our funding comes from individuals, a few organizations and our fundraisers. Our operating shortfall has been $25,000 to $30,000 per year. We have not gained ground to become financially stable; therefore, we have had to make a difficult decision to do what needs to be done to ensure that we are good stewards of what has been entrusted to us and try to be fair to our staff and not leave any outstanding obligations.
Upon the recognition that we would no longer be able to continue as a ministry, we have asked The Mustard Seed to take over our assets and to continue meeting the needs of the homeless and poor in Red Deer. So while we are are disappointed with our situation, we are excited that the needs of those less fortunate and in need of assistance in their daily lives may be well served through The Mustard Seed. The Board is in negotiations to turn over the facilities and assets of Loaves and Fishes to The Mustard Seed.
Effective 2016 June 30, Loaves and Fishes Benevolent Society will close their doors and no longer operate or provide any services in Red Deer or surrounding area. This decision is made with an extremely heavy heart but in gratitude for the 20 plus years that Loaves and Fishes has provided services and leadership to the less fortunate of our community and surrounding area. We have received tremendous support over the years from volunteers and individuals that have enabled our continuous operations.
An independent review, has confirmed that Loaves and Fishes has significant goodwill within the community and it has been said by a church leader that it has been “the primary hand of God to the poor in Red Deer”. It is unfortunate that this did not translate into financial support but, the reality is, we have not received the funding necessary to continue to provide the ministry that is so needed.
Thank you to those who have believed in our ministry and provided support over these many years. Sorry, to those clients that we are not able to provide continuing or new support to, but we are grateful that The Mustard Seed will be able to step into the gap and be there to help meet the tangible needs in our community.
The Board of Directors
Loaves and Fishes Benevolent Society