It all started with a tomato sandwich

A homeless man knocked on the door to our founders Dr. Donald and Dr. Dorothy Femmer’s home. Attached to a church and Bible college, the man didn’t realize that he had knocked on the family’s residential door. Sent away for the church, the Femmer’s were desperate to find the man. They found him hitchhiking on the highway and brought him back to their home. The man received a tomato sandwich, made fresh out of the family’s garden, and gave a heartfelt conversation. When he left, Dorothy vowed that no one would ever leave her home hungry again.

Dorothy’s vision would soon become a reality. In January 1982, Loaves and Fishes For St. Louis, Inc. officially opened its doors. The goal was to provide temporary emergency food to the poor, aged, and unemployed while expressing the Christian message of compassion through sharing.

It is only through God’s grace and the support of our community that our doors didn’t close in 1997. A fire destroyed over half of our building, temporarily shutting down services to our community. Now operating as an emergency homeless shelter and food pantry, the loss of this resource made a profound impact on those who couldn’t get into the city where most essential programs were located.

Dorothy Femmer was resilient. She rallied the local community to help rebuild. In 1998, amid a housing crisis, we re-opened our doors.

Today we are a thriving food pantry and emergency homeless shelter for families with children. Fifteen thousand people benefit from our programs that now include intensive case management, life skills classes, parenting classes, financial education, counseling, housing readiness, housing navigation, and employment programs. These services include seasonal programs that address food insecurity, family unity, holiday expenses, and just being a kid.