Suzanne Toolan was born in Lansing, Michigan on October 24, 1927. She joined the Sisters of Mercy in Burlingame, California in 1950, where she taught chorale at Mercy High School. Toolan wrote the words to the hymn in 1964 during her time in between classes. Toolan claims to have discarded the original copy, but was inspired by a student to keep it. She originally presented the hymn in its final form at a diocese music educators' conference in 1966. The popularity of the hymn coincided with the use of vernacular languages following the Second Vatican Council.
Along with its use in the Worship hymnal for the Catholic church, the hymn also appears in the Episcopal Church's The Hymnal 1982 and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
- "'I Am the Bread of Life' composer tells her story in new book". The Catholic Voice. October 22, 2007. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
- Tooley, Suzanne (September 2, 2016). "The Story of "I Am the Bread of Life"". Sisters of Mercy. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
- "Bread of Life (Toolan)". hymnary.org. Retrieved April 22, 2019.