Loaves and Fishes 2

Shanel Bodden, middle right, serves as a volunteer at Loaves and Fishes Monday. Individuals with Kids Across America served as the volunteer group for the first night.

From now until the end of February, Branson area residents in need of a free hot meal will have access to two a week thanks to the continued combined efforts of area churches, organizations, businesses and The Salvation Army. 

Every Monday and Wednesday night, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., area residents are invited to attend the 2020 Loaves and Fishes. The annual meal program, which began this year on Jan. 8, has been taking place in Branson now for several years in order to give area residents some good food and welcoming company, according to Loaves and Fishes Coordinator Jim Lawson.

“This started out many, many years ago, because Branson in the winter time, in the months of January and February, pretty much the shows would shut down and the town would shut down for a while,” said Lawson. “Over a period of time that has changed and we are more of a year-round community. There are still some people who are laid off.”

The Monday night meals are held at the First Baptist Church in Branson and the Wednesday night meals are held at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Branson.

Lawson said he wants residents to understand that the Loaves and Fishes meal program is open to anyone and is not restricted to those who are unemployed or lower income.

“There are no qualifications, so we would just like for people to come who would like to have a hot meal,” Lawson said. “Over the years, we have developed kind of a community spirit and we feed some of the same people year after year. They’re always good meals.”

Since 2014, more than 16,250 meals have been served. 

A total of 7,859 of the those meals were served in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and in 2019 alone 1,971 meals were served.

Each night, meals are cooked and served by volunteer members of the community, whether that be a business, an organization or a church. The final meal of the season will be served on Wednesday, Feb. 26. 

The First Baptist Church is located at 400 South Sunshine in Branson and Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church is located at 202 Vaughn Drive in Branson. If the Branson School District cancels school due to inclement weather on a Monday or Wednesday, no meals will be served on those nights. 

Lawson said he has someone scheduled every night except one and would invited anyone interested to contact him at jimlawsonj@aol.com.

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