Harvest Outreach Ministries feeds people, feeds hearts and changes lives in new location


Volunteers for Loaves and Fishes are ready to serve pizza from the Little Caesars mobile Love Kitchen Friday, May 25. From left are Michael Kohen, Brittany Tobais, Maureen Soucy, Anna Jurado, Ashley Summers and Kristen Tyler. | Photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Loaves and Fishes, a ministry of Harvest Outreach, hands out about 70 meals from 5-6 p.m. per weeknight.

Many people go home on Fridays with a weekend box to make sure they will have food until the doors open again on Monday. 

The Loaves and Fishes program had a home at Helping Hands Church on Lyon Street in Hannibal for several years. It now operates from a space bought at 413 Broadway at the beginning of the year and under construction since mid-January. It will house a commercial kitchen and space for indoor serving and dining. 

Thanks to volunteers from the community, the Bethel Baptist Association, the Hannibal Crossing Church and others, the building has new lighting and walls up for what will be the kitchen. The drywall is now in the mudding and taping process by a local and experienced volunteer.

For now, they bring meals to the building ready to serve. 

Billie Heidecker, coordinator of the Loaves and Fishes program and Feed America Food Pantry, said the new building allows them to invite the public inside when they pick up their food.

“In the last building we were in, nobody could come into the building because it was so small. We were grateful for that building because we had a home,” she said. “But now if it’s raining or snowing — or now since it will be getting hot — we can get people out of the elements when they come to get their food.”

The space also helps with their weekend boxes. They can keep it all in one place rather than various places to gather food for the boxes. 

The location of the building has made a difference.

“This is an amazing location. Very central. We love Broadway,” she said. “This is also very good for those who have to walk. It’s close by for those who live in the apartments down here. It’s also good for those who are homeless.”

Twenty-three organizations now provide and help serve meals, but they are looking to fill the third and fourth Friday of each month. Those days are covered by one-time volunteers or the program leaders. 

The Little Caesars mobile Love Kitchen recently was there to provide two pieces of pizza for everyone who came. 

To find out more about volunteering for Loaves and Fishes, visit http://www.harvestoutreach.faith/loaves_and_fishes.

The nightly service is just the tip of what is happening through Harvest Outreach Ministries. The program feeds people, feeds hearts and changes lives.

Many of those helping serve behind the lines at Loaves and Fishes have walked in the shoes of those who enter the door. 

The Harvest House is a faith-based sober-living home through Harvest Outreach Ministries. Members of the home are regular volunteers for Loaves and Fishes. 

Harvest House has separate facilities for men and women. The court often recommends the Harvest House to people transitioning back to society after serving time for non-violent and non-sexual charges. 

The Men’s Harvest House is full, housing 18 men. The Women’s Harvest House houses 11 women, with several newcomers expected next week, which will fill the house.

The program completion takes about 4-6 months, but the house members can stay as long as they want. 

Hinds said the household members who leave the house too soon often fall back into their addictions. They often end up back in prison or worse.

“We bury a lot of people, and that’s the saddest part of this,” he said. “I always tell people when I am interviewing them, ‘I am not saying you have to be hard-hearted, but you can’t wear it. If you do, then you can’t do this.’ It hurts. We hurt every time someone fails or someone dies. If we wore it, we couldn’t do it.”

Hinds said the most successful people usually stay in the home for about two years.

Personal relationships are one of the most common reasons they see people return to their old lives.

Hinds said their program teaches them about a different relationship — the restoring love of Jesus Christ. Those who embrace Him find success in the program.

“People always ask about our success rate. I have been answering this question the same way for about 40 years,” he said. “If they come to the saving arms of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is usually 100 percent.”

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