MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A local nonprofit is celebrating a record-breaking July after serving over half a million meals to Minnesotans in need.

Loaves & Fishes on Wednesday reported serving over 505,000 meals last month — the highest number ever served in a monthly span since the meal program began in 1982.

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In all of 2018, Loaves & Fishes served 1,360,720 meals, with 126,134 meals counted in July of 2019. Officials say the dramatic increase can be seen across all of their work, including community meal sites, HUB partners and street outreach.

“My heart hurts that this is the true number, I questioned it – could this be accurate? We have cross-checked three times – I was hoping for a miscalculation and it is a real count,” said Executive Director Cathy Maes. “At the same time, I am wildly smiling with pride that this organization was ready to meet the need and had the arrows in the quiver to scale quickly to capture the food and serve it to anyone in need. We have led with generosity and that is our key ingredient right now.”

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In March, Loaves & Fishes switched gears to a to-go model. Officials say their partnership with Second Harvest Heartland and ChowGirls Killer Catering allowed them to create the Minnesota Central Kitchen and feed those in need at a higher rate.

The nonprofit also partnered with the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities to provide more community meal sites.

At the beginning of the year, Loaves & Fishes was projected to serve 1.5 million meals in 2020, those projections have since risen to 3.5 million.

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