About Us

1997 --- How we started

The "Feeding the 5,000 Families" food drive began in 1997 as an interfaith effort to raise enough food for 5,000 families. The drive was born as part of a program called “Walk with Jesus” at the First United Methodist Church in Pocatello, Idaho. The goal of the program was to teach children about the ministry of Jesus by discussing occurrences in his life and incorporating a mission or service project. When the story of Jesus Feeding the 5,000 came up they planned to gather 5,000 cans of food. However, it seemed like such a monumental undertaking, they decided to recruit the help of other churches.

The reaction from other churches was amazing. At the first meeting, representatives from 7 different churches attended and one of the attendees helped them gain access to the LDS cannery. Shortly thereafter the goal was raised from 5,000 cans to 25, 000 cans to reflect the fact that Bible scholars say that only men were counted in the multitude. In reality there would have been families with them. Roy Lacey, Idaho Foodbank Director, stated that 25,000 cans would be required to feed 5,000 families. That is when the name of the drive was changed to "Feeding the 5,000 Families."

The drive surpassed their goal of 25,000 cans that first year and raised 30,000. It was the United Methodist Church, who thought they could not raise 5,000 cans alone, that ended up raising extra 5,000 cans!

Over the years, the number of events and community involvement has steadily increased. In the second year of the drive, they started collecting items at grocery stores in teams of people made up of different congregations. In the third year, the drive expanded to include a “Feeding the 5,000 Families Community of Faith Concert” featuring musical talents from local churches. In the ninth year of the drive the interfaith progressive dinner began, in which people walked from church to church eating part of a meal (and receiving a message about giving) at each location. Last year the First Presbyterian Church started a prayer vigil. You can sign up for a time slot and together we will pray to end hunger in the world.

"Feeding the 5,000 Families" has become the largest food drive of its kind in the history of the Idaho Foodbank. It is also believed to be the longest running interfaith food drive of its kind in the United States. Over the years, the drive has collected over 1 million pounds of food! This year, the goal is to raise 220,000 pounds in order to start on the next million.

"Feeding the 5000 Families" takes its name and its spirit from the Gospel of John. The gospel relates a story in which Jesus miraculously feeds a multitude of 5000 families with only two fish and two loaves of bread which were given him by a small boy who was generous enough to share all that he had. Feeding the 5,000 continues to rely on the generosity of people of faith.


It has been widely reported that Feeding the 5,000 started as a Sunday School program. However, the beginning was when God gave me the inspiration to start the Sunday School program.

And right beside me was my good friend Karen McCall.

After months of doing reenactments that mirrored parts of Jesus life and accompanying them each with a service project, it was time to do Jesus Feeding the 5,000. Our first thought was to gather 5,000 cans of food, but that seemed too much for us, so we decided to invite other churches to be a part of it. 7 different denominations attended the first meeting.

At our first meeting Hal Call (LDS)was inspired to suggest that we might be able to get into the LDS Cannery. We were blessed by not only the food that was produced there but by the relationships that developed among the denominations

At our second meeting Peter Moore (United Methodist), was inspired to invite Roy Lacey from the Idaho Foodbank to our meeting. I had no idea why.

Through conversation at that meeting about how Jesus didn’t just feed 5,000, men, but their families too, we raised the goal from 5,000 to 25,000 and Changed the official name of the drive to Feeding the 5,000 Families.