With Thanksgiving being commemorated this week, people’s thoughts often turn to feeding the poor.
Several Province ministries dedicate themselves to meeting the growing concerns of those in need in this tough economy, especially at the holidays.
One program in particular is taking its show on the road, as the saying goes. The 82-year-old St. Francis Breadline at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan is expanding to include a delivery service for senior citizens.
Franciscans Deliver — a breadline on wheels — will cut the ribbon for its launch during an open house weekend December 15 and 16. The food ministry, which distributes hundreds of brown-bag meals and hot coffee each morning, has created a food pantry in the old school building adjacent to the church on West 31st Street.
The program’s goal is to deliver each week one meal consisting of chicken or red meat, potatoes or rice, and dessert. In addition, the food delivery will include hot or cold cereal, coffee or tea, milk, a dozen eggs, bread and cheese.
The meals will be delivered by pairs of volunteers to neighborhoods in the vicinity of the Midtown church, including a high-rise housing complex called Penn South between 8th and 9th avenues at 23rd to 29th streets.
Recipients will be screened by social workers at Penn South, according to U.S. income guidelines. This partnership may allow Franciscans Deliver to qualify to provide government food in the future.
Volunteers for the expanded program were recruited from the parish’s ministry groups.
St. Anthony Shrine in Boston also has a popular food program. On Oct. 21, director James Patrick Kelly, OFM, andRaymond Selker, OFM, chaplain of the Franciscan Food Center, hosted a special “Thank You” Mass and luncheon for more than 45 food volunteers. James Czerwinski, OFM, also participated.
The volunteers followed Jim’s invitation to come up to the altar during the Consecration and elicited a comment that the group resembled the Sermon on the Mount.
The Mass was followed by a pasta lunch prepared by the shrine’s executive chef Jackie Mello. Volunteer director Julie Ogden decorated the auditorium.
“The Franciscan Food Center helps people who need help with their food by providing groceries in a client-choice environment of compassion and dignity,” said Joyce Lonergan, food center director, who provided a photo (“behind” photo above.) Each week, the center serves approximately 450 persons based on financial and in-kind food support from a group of generous Shrine and food industry donors.”
These are just two of the Province’s many food ministries. Others include St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, along with programs at St. Camillus Parish, Silver Spring, Md.; at several New Jersey parishes — St. Bonaventure in Paterson, St. Mary in Pompton Lakes, St. Francis on Long Beach Island, N.J.; Holy Name and St. Stephen of Hungary parishes in Manhattan; St Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh, N.C.; and St. Anthony-St. Patrick Parish, Hartford, Conn.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.