Our History 

This is a project of the Trinity Loaves and Fishes ministry to record the initial start and the evolution of 
this vibrant church ministry.  There is no better voice to do so than those of the folks who have 
walked the path themselves.  Here are their memories. 

From Alice Wright:
“In November 2005, Dabney Smith, rector of Trinity Church, asked me to be the coordinator of Disaster
Relief.  Dabney had seen the the Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck from Austin, Texas serving meals in 
front of Christ Church Cathedral.  He thought it would be a great project for Trinity Church to adopt.  
Sandy Courvoisier and I went to Austin to see the operation in person.Alan Graham, the founder of 
MLF, showed us how it worked.  We made sandwiches, loaded the truck and went on a run.  
Austin had seven trucks operating daily at that time.

Trinity entered into an agreement to be an affiliate of MLF Austin.  New Orleans became the first
MLF project outside of Austin.  Alan brought an outfitted truck to New Orleans in January 2006 and 
trained several volunteers.  Our first run was January 16.  There were several different aspects of the 
Austin and the New Orleans programs.  Austin fed the homeless and all runs were at night.  We were 
feeding first responders and those people returning home to start their lives over.  And our runs were 
all in the daytime because there were no street lights and the returning residents couldn't work on 
their homes at night.

Our first runs, with Alan, were to areas where there were lots of people...the corner of Canal and Rampart
and the gas station at Lee Circle.  I felt strongly that we couldn't give away food at those locations 
because there were stores that had struggled to reopen and we were taking business from them. 
Alan didn't quite understand.

We did find appropriate sites like the free medical clinics held at Audubon Zoo.  Hundreds of people
were lined up waiting to see doctors.  They were cold, hungry, sad and frustrated.  We fed them and
 listened to their stories.  We found that a major part of our ministry was to listen.  There were so 
many heartbreaking stories and so many hungry stories.  We immediately realized what an important 
part of the recovery MLF would be.

We stocked the truck with toiletries, books, Bibles and stuffed animals.  The stuffed animals were not
only for the children, but for adults, as well. In the following weeks we would drive around devastated 
areas (9th Ward, Gentilly, Broadmoor) and look for new cars (there were many ruined cars) in driveways
and in front of houses, get out knock on doors and and feed and listen and then head to the next block.  
We would stop whenever we saw Entergy workers or other first responders and give them a sandwich 
and a cup of coffee.  Everyone was so appreciative.

By mid-February, the city was filled with volunteers from all over the country coming to help us rebuild
our beloved city.  The volunteers were young, old, male, female, black, white from every corner of the 
world.  We began feeding the volunteers through programs like St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church's 
RHINO program, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities, ACORN and others.

One of our best stops was at the corner of St. Claude Ave and Caffin St, the future home of All Souls
Episcopal Church.  St. James Church Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge was giving out water and 
cleaning supplies at that site.

Again, we listened to the stories and gave out lots of hugs.  People from other parts of the country
didn't realize how hot and sunny it could be in New Orleans in early Spring.  I can remember keeping
 sunscreen in the truck and slathering it on many.

One of the problems we encountered was finding the locations.  Each day I would schedule the stops,
sometimes up to 5 different locations.  I would print out a google map, but there were no street signs 
and we were in an unfamiliar area.  When we arrived in the general area and found no street signs, we 
would drive around looking for a large group of people.  At times it became uncomfortable because the 
group we found was not the scheduled group and we would not have enough sandwiches to serve them.  
We would share as much as possible and still have enough for the scheduled group.  Remember there 
were no grocery stores anywhere near these sites for the volunteers to buy lunch.

As time went on, the homeless population grew and we began feeding volunteers, returning residents
and the homeless.  We worked with Unity, The Mission, Mercy Endeavors and other organizations
 that support the homeless.”

From John “Clay” Randolph:
“Following a two month stay in Houston necessitated by Hurricane Katrina, I returned to New Orleans
in October of 2005. As many will recall, in the months following Katrina there was no shortage of 
opportunities to volunteer to help the city try to recover. I was particularly moved by the great number 
of people who came to New Orleans from all over the country to do what they could to 
help with our recovery. 

I don’t remember exactly when it was, but at some point I saw an announcement from Trinity that
we would be partnering with Mobile Loaves & Fishes out of Austin, Texas to begin a ministry of 
serving meals, on site, to volunteers working in the Lower Ninth Ward and other parts of the city. I 
thought that sounded like  a perfect way to try to say “thank you” to all those people who were 
giving so much of themselves to help us in our time of need. 

I soon found myself on a team headed up by Lisa Wurtzel that met on the third Saturday of each month to
prepare and deliver meals. It felt good to think that we were in some small way helping those who had 
come from far and wide to help us. 

Ten years later our target recipients have changed (our team now prepares meals for the homeless), but
we still meet on the third Saturday of each month to prepare and deliver meals, and we still enjoy each 
other’s company as we do our small part to try to serve those in our city who are in need.”

From Lisa Wurtzel:
“Serving a simple meal to someone in need seems so basic.  Providing the meal is only part of
the power of Loaves and Fishes.  There is also listening, sharing and a communion that nourishes 
and heals on physical, emotional and spiritual levels.  I have volunteered since the spring of Loaves
 and Fishes’ first year.  I have seen those we serve change from the displaced, to rebuilding volunteers,
 then to the homeless.   Every population has had its own needs and its own gifts to give our volunteers
 in return.   It is the beauty of the exchange of gifts – even on grimy New Orleans street corners –
 that keeps me coming back.”

From Cathy Posey:
“So often during my evacuation period following Katrina, I thought about Trinity and wondered what was
happening there. As soon as I was back in my house, I headed to my second home, my church. Efforts 
were already underway to help parishioners in need and to assess what was needed community wide, 
efforts ably headed by Alice Wright. Until there was a job to do, Susu Kearney and I scavenged for food 
at Whole Foods on Veterans and anywhere else to take to St Bernard and the flourishing and efficient 
community of hippies in tents. From the first, they fed hundreds, provided clothes and supplies and, 
ultimately, laundry facilities.  All of these services were quickly identified by Trinity as well as being 
essential,  and so Loaves and Fishes was brought to New Orleans from its home town of Austin.

As we all know, the original concept was to feed returning residents and there proved to be few of
these in our target areas. Mainly we provided meals for the constant stream of volunteers who arrived 
to help rebuild New Orleans, neighborhood by neighborhood. What a joy it was to go out on the truck 
to discover  these amazing people from all over the country, to be able to thank them for caring and 
demonstrating that care in such a concrete way. When we were able to interact with residents, we 
were the ones who were more affected than they. To hear their stories and to realize their courage 
was something I will never forget. Odd as  it seemed following such a tragedy, the streets were full 
of hope, caring and love for each other. It was a time to believe in the power of human kindness,
demonstrated by sandwiches, soap and simple listening.” 

From Sally Cockerham
Reflections on Loaves & Fishes
I was lucky enough to return early to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to minimal damage to my 
home. In the immediate aftermath of the storm there was little one could do for the thousands who 
has been affected by its viciousness - clothes (other than a few things) weren't needed as no one 
had closets to put them in, large quantities of perishable food couldn't be given as there were no 
refrigerators. Those of us who had basically escaped felt helpless in the face of so much destruction.
Trinity was up and running, doing what it could to help, so I started hanging around there. Alice Wright 
approached me saying she had contacted a ministry based in Austin which fed and clothed the homeless 
called Loaves & Fishes. She asked if I was interested in participating. I said yes and that I could probably
 enlist some others to help. Thus was Team Tuesday born.  And here we are, still together, 10 years later! 
While we are happy to serve those in need today, the early runs were the most intense. We went into
neighborhoods that had been ravaged by the storm to offer food, water, clothing, books, etc., but the 
most important thing we offered was an ear to listen. I remember one man describing watching his 
neighbor drown in the deep waters on his street as he tried to go back to his home to retrieve something.
 Listening, we found, became a very important part of this ministry. There were lots of tears and prayers 
in those days. As volunteers started pouring into the city to help rebuild, Loaves & Fishes began to feed 
them as well. While serving the victims of the hurricane was upsetting (though rewarding), this was where 
WE were uplifted! The witness of love by the thousands who came (many multiple times) was what I think 
enabled us to continue. One other aspect of participating in the Loaves & Fishes ministry that must be 
mentioned is the fellowship experienced around the "sandwich table."  We are called to community as 
Christians and this is a wonderful way to fulfill that call. I have strengthened bonds with old friends and 
created new ones with those who have joined our team in the past several years. 
As with most ventures of service in my life, I have gotten much more than I have given. Thanks be to God!! 


© 2012 Trinity Episcopal Church

1329 Jackson Avenue  |  New Orleans, Louisiana 70130  |  504.522.0276