The heart of 2 Li'l Fishes is helping our neighbors in need, without fanfare, frills or formality. Hard work, sacrifice and focus make the program work. Please enjoy exploring our website and learning how you can become partners with us in fulfilling the motto of 2 Li'l Fishes: Restoring Hope One Plate at a Time.
2 Li'l Fishes serves meals every day but Wednesday, rain or shine. All meals are served in Anderson Hall, the basement-level auditorium of the Preston Bradley Center of the Peoples Church of Chicago. Doors open to the public at 11:30 a.m. Visiting guests use the building's main doors to enter the church sanctuary, where they can wait for meal service to begin. Service is from 12:30 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. The program closes promptly at 1:30 p.m. On the 3rd Saturday of each month, the Taiwanese-American Tzu Chi Buddhist Mid-West Organization provides the meal.
Will runs our kitchen, brings in the volunteers and oversees our Internet and technical efforts. An admitted computer geek, he works tirelessly to provide a 21st Century answer to one of life's oldest problems: Hunger.
Isaac is the perfect person for leading the 2 Li'l Fishes team. Extensive work in restaurants, years as a supervisor for a local shelter, and his own personal experience give him deep insight into the needs of troubled individuals. His wit, energy and sincerity are the guiding forces behind our efforts.
Michael's background in cooking, custodial care and security helps keep 2 Li'l Fishes in ship-shape, running smoothly on a regular basis. Each meal day his warm smile greets our guests, and his focus provides a safe environment in which they're able to enjoy their food.
In the mid-1990s the Peoples Church of Chicago began a meal program as a way to help the growing number of people in need in the Uptown community. It operated with a small budget, one part-time staff person, served meals on three days, and helped about 300-350 Guests each week. The program continued in this way for more than ten years. In 2006 our current Program Coordinator, Isaac Barrantine, took on running the program. Isaac was inspired by the New Testament miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, when many were fed from little because there was a belief that it could be done and a will to make it so. From this inspiration the 2 Li'l Fishes concept was born. By 2008, with the backing of the Peoples Church and the generosity of various individuals, organizations and corporations, the meal program was able to support a staff of three, purchase equipment and appliances for food storage and preparation and add a fourth day of meal service. In the summer of 2012, we added two more meal days, so that the 2 Li'l Fishes meal program now serves hot, nutritious lunches, in a safe environment, to over 500 Guests each week. Still in the same location, the program operates as part of the Preston Bradley Center, the non-profit 501(c)(3) arm of Peoples Church. Your donations are welcome, and fully tax-deductible!
The historic neighborhood of Uptown, by Lake Michigan on Chicago's North Side, is arguably the most diverse in the City. Its residents spring from five of the world's six continents. More than a dozen different languages are spoken here. The cuisine of its restaurants is as varied as Mexican to Vietnamese, Ethiopian to Mediterranean, American to Arabic. Small businesses and retailers mirror the multiple ethnic origins of their operators. The many attractions of the community include concert venues, nightclubs, beaches, lakeside parks and field houses, and Montrose Harbor. In all Uptown draws its residents from many lifestyles and many places. A frequently forgotten facet of Uptown's diversity is the hundreds and hundreds of individuals who, while facing some of life's toughest challenges, also call this area home. Burdened by homelessness, poverty, physical and mental disabilities, illiteracy, addictions, social stigmas and prejudice, and more, they face a long road filled with obstacles to the recovery of a more mainstream life. They are our neighbors in need and no matter where they come from, or why, all are united by the fact that it is difficult, if not impossible for them to make and eat the three meals a day that so many people take for granted.
The Peoples Church of Chicago has been a voice for faith, equality, justice and community in Chicago for over 130 years, and welcomes people from all walks of life. We encourage spiritual exploration and deep sharing, caring for our neighbor and for the Earth. Join us for worship at 10am on Sunday, Jesus-centered, flavored with poetry and children's stories and song. On First Fridays we welcome people for a Taize style worship and discussion of the Big Questions, followed by the Music Coffeehouse, with live music and delicious dessert. The Preston Bradley Center, the 501(c) 3 arm of Peoples Church, houses not only the church, but is also host to a large concert band ensemble and its various smaller groups; the Christ Pentecostal International Church; and a local homeless services provider; and 2 Li'l Fishes, the church's long-standing free lunch program. The beautiful auditorium has wonderful acoustics, and can accommodate large or small groups, for music performances, weddings, or meetings. Molly's Cafe, on 3-and-a-half West, is a pleasant sunny room, where the Coffeehouse jazzes up First Friday evenings. Check out the Peoples Church website.