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Monday, June 13, 2016

Community Activist Beats Depression By Giving Back to Low Income Families — Says, “Healing Comes Through Serving”

— 50-year old Robert Flournoy, founder of Loaves and Fishes x10, works with local farmers to give away more than 250,000 pounds of fresh produce every year to families in need. —

Robert Flournoy

Robert Flournoy, founder of Loaves and Fishes x10

Orange County, CA — Depression is the clinical term for a person who is going through an emotional and physical disorder characterized by a general loss of interest and chronic feelings of sadness. Although Robert Flournoy was going through this disease, it didn’t detour him from his yearning to help others in need. Sixteen years ago in Santa Ana, a city that’s known for gangs and drugs, he was living in Tustin and started helping the homeless because this passion was greater than his situation. Their needs were more important than his own life struggle, so he made it his mission to see that they were taken care of and that they knew they had a friend. Robert unknowingly began his journey to fight hunger 17 years ago when he made a commitment to support these seven homeless people in Tustin, CA.

For an entire year, he primarily used his personal income, with a few donations from friends and family, to provide these individuals with hygiene products, food, and meals during the holidays and throughout the year. The thought of people being out in the cold would literally keep him awake at night, and sometimes he would go out at late hours, just to make sure they were alright. Through his tireless efforts he was able to convince some them to go back home to live with families. Robert was given the name Pastor Bob by the first homeless person he met. This name had spread to the point that spouses of the homeless looked for Pastor Bob just to find out where their significant other was because they had heard that he was taking care of them.

Robert always watched over these seven homeless people with love and compassion after his work hours. While in the community, Robert saw the need for families as well. Even though they were not homeless, hunger and poverty still affected many. He decided to reach out to others in need and began to distribute at a place called Labor Ready where this business would find jobs for people who just got out of jail. Robert was so dedicated to helping these people he gutted out his new refrigerator and filled it with sandwiches, chips and drinks he would get the night before and then distribute it to everyone who was at the office the next morning. This business was only able to offer people four hours a day of work and Robert new that working four hours a day wasn’t enough because not only did they have to eat but they didn’t get paid enough to rent a motel room for the night if they needed one. Robert did this for a whole year in Tustin California. While in the community, Robert saw the need for families as well. Even though they were not homeless or just getting out of jail hunger and poverty still affected many. He decided to reach out to others in need and began to procure donations for Food Banks and other community organizations. He held outreaches and distributed food to hundreds of families in motels and low income apartment communities throughout Orange County. During the years he worked with the Food Banks, he supplied roughly 60,000 to 70,000 lbs. of food per week. This effort helped feed at least 3,000 people a week as well as support other non-profits.

Robert began to get involved with larger events such as renting out school parking lots and giving out over 50,000 lbs of food to the community, per event. This also included toy distribution events for underprivileged and at risk children in the community. It was on Robert’s heart to consistently reach several regions of Santa Ana. Over a span of 10 years he “adopted” three blocks in the city to provide food and basic living requirements such as household supplies and diapers, to needy families every Friday evening. Through his consistency, Robert built relationships with people that helped them to overcome addictions, depression and helped to bring relief to struggling families. He began to get very well known for the compassion he had for struggling families. In 2011, after serving and being faithful to other organizations for 12 years in addition to working a full time job, he took a leap of faith and officially founded his own organization, Loaves and Fishes x10. He has been very dedicated to feeding the community with passion and love. The organization collaborates with local food banks, churches, community and non-profits, arranging gleaning/harvesting opportunities for them on farmlands throughout Orange County. This allows participants to come and pick produce for families who may not have healthy alternatives. His vision is to get as many farms in Orange County as possible to donate their produce that’s left on the fields to food banks and the community. Although most of the money he uses to run the organization comes from his own pocket, he is very excited about gleaning/harvesting because this quality organic produce provides families with a much healthier alternative to eating, than would be obtained through canned goods. Perhaps what he most enjoys is watching families, parents and children, working together to help those in need and the “spark” that is lit as they realize the impact they are having on families throughout the county. He has planted this “seed” of giving in the hearts of countless people. He has shown through his organization that the very produce on their plates doesn’t just appear it takes work to supply a nation fresh produce.

Robert has created a slogan which says “Farming” If You’re Not Dirty Someone’s Going Hungry” “In the United States, on average 30 to 40 percent of the food grown on farms goes to waste each year. Since 2011, Loaves & Fishes x10 has partnered with local farmers such as, Dan & Anne Manassero of “The Original Manassero Farms” and A.G. Kawamura of “Orange County Produce LLC” who was the former California Secretary of State of Agriculture. Together in partnership left over produce in the fields is donated to help support organizations that serve a combined 1,025,000 people. In 2012 Robert’s organization Loaves and Fishes x10 donated over 250,000 lbs of farm fresh produce to food banks, soup kitchens, food pantries and churches. Each year his organization averages over 130,000 to 250,000 pounds of produce donated from Orange County farmers. Robert is the recipient of many awards including a “California Senate Resolution” for fighting hunger for 17 years ,four Congressional Certificates of Recognition, City Council Certificates of Recognition and many more.

For more details about Loaves & Fishes x 10, visit www.loavesandfishesx10.com

For more details about Robert Flournoy himself, visit www.robertflournoy.com


Watch a segment with AG Kawamura, owner of Orange County Produce, and other volunteers harvesting lettuce:


Loaves and Fishes x10