Exam - Background Image
Back To Success Stories >

Mobile Loaves & Fishes

The mission of Mobile Loaves & Fishes is to provide food and clothing and promote dignity to our homeless brothers and sisters through three core programs: the Community First! Housing program, the ROADS Micro-Enterprise Program, and our innovative Truck Communities.

Tracy’s Story

Even in childhood, Tracy spent much of her life just trying to survive. Life was difficult in her family. Her mother suffered mental illness and her father was not able to adequately care for Tracy and her siblings. When she was in the third grade, she was placed in foster care. At just 14 years old, Tracy took off on her own searching for love and comfort.

Tracy did find love, got married and soon had a son. She was happy and living the life she had always dreamed of, until her own struggle with mental illness and addictions turned her dream into a nightmare. Her eight year marriage ended in divorce and she lost her job. Not able to care for herself or her child, Tracy’s husband was given custody of her precious son. Her life was shattered and she slid into deep depression.

Tracy’s battle with depression and addictions left her alone, vulnerable and homeless. In 1992 she was thrust into the harsh world of living on the streets, and has struggled every day since that time to survive. This relentless struggle of survival is the tough reality our homeless brothers and sisters experience every day while living on the streets of Austin. They are hungry, isolated and have no safe place to call home.

“Living on the streets is hard. I did what I had to do to survive.” -Tracy

Struggling to survive on the streets, Tracy’s life hit rock bottom and she eventually ended up in jail. Soon she entered a rehab program and began the hard work to transform her life. She began to heal both physically and emotionally while learning how to manage her health and sobriety. She knew that in order to maintain her new life and reconnect with her son, she needed to be in a good environment with resources to sustain and protect her.

Today, Tracy is home in Community First! Village, and her struggle to survive is over. She is living in a safe and stable place surrounded by a caring and supportive community. She earns a dignified income by doing laundry and helping prepare homes for new Village neighbors. What she considers her greatest work, though, is having the opportunity to mentor others who suffer with addictions and depression.

“I am so grateful and I want to do something better. I’m living proof that the struggle is real, but change is possible.” –Tracy

Tracy is now the leader of one of the truck teams serving on the truck. She was part of the very first group that delivered meals and now she trains other volunteers and residents. She got to know Charlie, another resident who was on that first team and continues to serve, and as of June 2018 are now engaged to be married in the village!

She continues to teach all of us about what the homeless are experiencing and how to build sustainable, trusting relationships with them.

“Everything we do is about relationships. The biggest lesson we have learned over the years is that we are not a food ministry. We merely use food as a conduit to connect human to human and heart to heart.” — ALAN GRAHAM, Founder & CEO



What progress have you made to date and are there challenges to completing the project on time?

We continue to be so grateful for First Nonprofit’s gift that made it possible to purchase a new food truck dedicated to truck teams serving out of the Community First! Village. We are now making food truck runs directly from the Village! And most importantly most of our current teams of volunteers are our awesome neighbors (residents) – formerly homeless men and women who are now stepping up to serve their friends who are still living on the streets of Austin.

The truck is up and running. We are continuing to build truck teams and make-ready teams to deliver nutritious meals out to the streets of Austin each evening. Make-ready teams prepare sandwiches (peanut butter, meat and cheese) and load the truck with fresh fruit, water, boiled eggs, cookies and toiletry items. The truck teams of six then arrives to drive the truck and to deliver them.

Relieving immediate hunger is fundamental for taking the next step toward emotional, spiritual and physical healing. With dignity and respect, our caring volunteers prepare and deliver wholesome meals and other basic needs to our homeless brothers and sisters who are struggling to survive. A handshake, a hug or a friendly smile can go a long way.

MLF officially began the truck program twenty years ago and we have 20,000 volunteers across all of the truck communities. But the village truck program is unique because the residents themselves serve their friends that are still living on the streets.

What is the most interesting thing you have learned to date?

Watching those who have found homes in the Community First! Village now serving on truck teams and serving their friends still living on the streets has taught us how important it is for them to have a sense of purpose as well as a new sense of hope that they can make a difference in our world. The teams have also become another opportunity for them to meet others in the village and form community!3/

The primary cause of homelessness is a catastrophic loss of family. What begins with a sandwich and a conversation with a caring Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteer soon opens the door to community and relationships where they’re needed most. As we faithfully serve our homeless neighbors and deliver meals with a side of hope, lives truly are transformed.