Yonkers Pantry One of Many to Benefit From "Feeding Our Neighbors"
Each Tuesday and Friday, a line of people gather at St. Peter's Food Pantry, which is run from St. Peter's Church in Yonkers, for donations of food items. In an average month, nearly 1,000 local families recieve a bag of groceries from the food pantry.
"Unfortunately, with the economic meltdown, the need has been much greater," said Father Joseph Espaillat, pastor of St. Peter's. "This is a poor and needy community. It's important for the parish to be involved.
"It's important for us to live out the mandate of our Lord and Savior to love and serve one another, especially the needy and the poor," he explained. "The food pantry is a concrete way for us to give back and to serve."
The pantry at St. Peter's received some 6,000 pounds of food thanks to a generous donation from the successful "Feeding Our Neighbors" campaign organized by archdiocesan Catholic Charities in late January.
"Feeding Our Neighbors really helped us a lot", said Barbara Giriat, director of the St. Peter's Food Pantry.
On April 10, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of New York, visited St. Peter's to award a grant of $ 5,000 to assist the food pantry. The St. Peter's pantry was one of 13 food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the archdiocese to receive grants from funds raised during the "Feeding Our Neighbors" campaign.
Along with St. Peter's, grants were given to the following food pantries: St. Luke's and Immaculate Conception, east Gun Hill Road, both the Bronx; st. Mary of the Assumption, Staten Island; st. John the Evangelist, Mahopac, Putnam County; St. Mary and St. Andrew, Ellenville, and St. Joseph's New Paltz, both Ulster County; St. Francis Xavier, Narrowsburg, and Our Lady of the Assumption, Bloomingburg, both Sullivan County; St. Columba's, Hopewell Junction, Dutchess County; Catholic Community Services of Rockland, Haverstraw, Rockland County; and Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry and Community Impact, both Manhattan.
More than 150 parishes and schools in the archdiocese participated in "Feeding Our Neighbor," raising nearly 75,000 pounds of food and collecting more than $ 100,000.
"We raised enough money and food to provide 575,000 additional meals to hungry New Yorkers," Msgr. Sullivan told CNY. "The parishes, schools and other organizations of the archdiocese responded enthusiastically and generously to Cardinal Dolan's call to show our faith and concerns for our neighbors in need."
"The response and the feedback was so positive we intend to repeat it again next year," he added.
Karen Reynolds, Catholic Charities regional supervisor for Westchester County, was also present at the April 10 event. She told CNY that in addition to directing those in need to food pantries, her office assists people with food stamp applications. "Most likely, if they come for food, they need food stamps," she said. "We balance each other, we cross reference. It's instrumental to our work."
Each Tuesday and Friday, the pantry at St. Peter's is open for one hour for food distribution, with a majority of the donations going to families. Six to 10 volunteers assist. A large percentage of the food is purchased through the Food Bank of Westchester with funds received from various grants. Once a month, the pantry offers people fresh produce sponsored by the Food Bank. Local parishes and schools also donate money and goods.
The bags of food are already packed for the families when they arrive. Because of the large number who visit the food pantry, Ms. Giriat told CNY, "You have to be a wise shopper to make your funds last."
Father Espaillat noted that the pantry "reaches out" to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, showing that "we are part of the community".
He said with great feeling, "This is the beauty of our Church. We provide for the most needy."
By Juliann Dos Santos
Catholic New York
April 19th, 2012