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Peter is a retired Army veteran who lives in the greater Bloomington area. He is a joyful, lively man who approaches life with a positive attitude. A few years ago, Peter faced some health challenges and his doctor diagnosed him with Type 2 Diabetes.

“I live alone, and whenever I would cook at home for myself, I wouldn’t eat healthy, nutritious meals,” he said.

In 2016, a neighbor took Peter to a program run by Loaves & Fishes, a Greater Twin Cities United Way nonprofit partner that provides free, nutritious meals to those in need. Loaves & Fishes is the largest public free meal program in the state of Minnesota, with more than 30 dining sites in eight Greater Twin Cities counties.

Peter saw the meals were nutritious- including fresh fruits and vegetables– and knew eating more healthfully could help his diabetes. For the past three years, he has been eating dinner at Loaves & Fishes five days a week. Over that period of time, Peter has lost more than 70 pounds.

“This is my main meal of the day– it’s easy, it’s balanced, and I can take leftovers home,” he said. “My doctor says it’s helped a lot- I’ve lost a lot of weight and my blood sugar is good.”

One thing Peter really appreciates about Loaves & Fishes is that guests are served restaurant-style by volunteers and staff rather than going through a line.

It’s very personal– I like that they serve you by bringing food to the table,” he said.

United Way made a direct impact on Peter’s life through Loaves & Fishes, which offered him access to nutritious food that improved his health as well as a sense of community.

“I am grateful for Loaves & Fishes. It’s healthy…it’s welcoming,” he said. “I think food made with love is good food.”

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