As Featured In:

INNOVATE® Austin Volume 2

What started as five men in Austin, Texas answering God’s call to “love your neighbor” by serving meals out of the back of a green minivan has turned into one of the country’s most innovative approaches for mitigating homelessness. In 1998, the seed of the idea for Mobile Loaves & Fishes (MLF) had been placed on the heart of our founder and CEO, Alan Graham. Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a social outreach ministry that provides food an , cultivates community and promotes dignity to homeless men and women in need. The organization empowers communities into a lifestyle of service with the homeless through three core programs: the MLF Truck Ministry, Community First! Village and Community Works.

 Through the support of thousands of volunteers, Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ food trucks hit the streets of Austin seven nights a week, 365 days a year, and to date have served more than six million meals to men and women who are experiencing homelessness. The truck ministry was created to offer our friends living on the streets more than just a meal. Truly, the food is but a conduit for building relationships and enabling individuals to connect human-to-human, heart-to-heart. Through a multitude of meaningful conversations over the years, MLF discovered what today is a core foundational belief of the organization—that the single greatest cause of homelessness is a profound, catastrophic loss of family. This very reason led Graham to think beyond the food trucks as to how we, the community, can become the forged family for our homeless brothers and sisters who have experienced a past of trauma and broken relationships.



“The mustard seed of an idea was, could we go out and purchase one gently used RV and lift one human being off the streets? Just one.”

Alan Graham, Founder & CEO, Mobile Loaves & Fishes 


 In 2005, Mobile Loaves & Fishes purchased our first RV home and lifted up one homeless man, our neighbor Sam, from the streets of Austin. This mustard seed of an idea to give our homeless neighbors a permanent place to call home evolved into what is now Community First! Village—a 51-acre master planned community designed specifically for men and women who are coming out of chronic homelessness. The Village is comprised of an eclectic mix of RVs, tiny homes and even a small number of some of the first 3D-printed homes in the country! Upon first stepping foot into the most talked about neighborhood in Austin, new neighbors are given the dignified opportunity of choosing their own house (from among the available units) that best suits their unique needs and personalities. Other structures, like laundry/restroom/shower facilities and outdoor kitchens, are spread conveniently around the property. In addition, Community First! provides services on-site for our neighbors, such as a health clinic, city bus stop, a convenient Community Market and a community center— appropriately named the Living Room—that serves as a gathering spot for a wide range of activities.

Neighbors living in Community First! Village also have the opportunity to earn a dignified income working on-site through Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ Community Works program. Community Works provides a means through which our formerly homeless neighbors can rediscover purpose and apply their God-given talents to do dignified work around the Village. Some of the work opportunities include housekeeping with our Community Inn bed and breakfast program; helping at movie nights in our large outdoor Community Cinema; tending to the land as part of our Genesis Gardens operation; making meals with our culinary team; and also several micro-enterprise opportunities through our art house program. Because the Village is currently spread across 51-acres of land, we even have an opportunity for our neighbors to earn a dignified income by driving “Gus” the Goodness Bus—an eight-seat golf cart— across many stops throughout the Village to help transport their fellow neighbors around the property.

That trek across the neighborhood is also getting ready to increase, because Community First! Village is continuing to grow! In April of 2021, Mobile Loaves & Fishes announced the Village’s largest expansion yet. We have acquired 127 additional acres of land with room for 1,400 more homes—more than tripling the current size of Community First! Village. Because of our compassionate donors, volunteers and community at large, what started as a mustard seed of an idea to care for Austin’s homeless neighbors has grown into an innovative movement built on goodness that continues to attract attention and support from all corners of the country.

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