A perfect storm is brewing that has Catholic Charities of Central Florida struggling to meet requests for food assistance. A drop in donations, an increase of people needing help, and recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has made this already busy time of year especially challenging. As quick as donations come in, they are back out the door in the arms of hungry families.
“At our Orlando food pantry we are providing 800 more pounds of food each month than we were during this same time last year” explains Anita Capetillo, Central Region Food Pantry Manager. “We expect the number of people we serve to increase by at least 25% during the holidays. Our current donations will not keep up with the added strain on the pantry.”
Local parishes and schools are answering the call for help. Bishop Moore Catholic High School has held a Thanksgiving Food Drive for several years but this year asked students to bring in at least two cans of food for a family in need and offered unique incentives for participation, including opportunities for a game day, dress up day, or doughnut party.
“We want our students to know that giving from the heart and living a vibrant charity towards the poor are integral parts of every Christian’s relationship with God” says Lisa Sojourner, Bishop Moore Coordinator for Pastoral Care. “In addition to collecting food we have also been praying daily for the people who will receive it.”
The food collected from Bishop Moore helped families receive Thanksgiving food items while a collection from St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Altamonte Springs provided food staples such as canned meats, vegetables, and pasta. Catholic Charities wants to ensure that the people seeking help are not only fed on Thanksgiving Day, but have enough food to feed their families for several days.
This assistance is crucial for Kevin Boyd and his family. They first visited Catholic Charities earlier this year when they were new to the area and didn’t know where to turn for help.
“They were good to us here” Boyd remembers. “Everyone treated us really well.”
Now, several months later, as Boyd continues to work to feed his family, he is grateful for the assistance from Catholic Charities.
“We need food. We are running short of food.”
“Your donation can make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable families” says Joseph Buranosky, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Central Florida. “When we come together to support our neighbors in need, they receive more than a bag of food – they receive hope in a difficult time.”
Parishes, schools, or other groups interested in hosting a food drive to feed local hungry families can contact Catholic Charities of Central Florida at 888-658-2828 or visit the website at www.cflcc.org. Items that are needed most include canned meats, canned vegetables, boxed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.
Catholic Charities is also seeking to keep families at risk of evictions, home for the holidays by assisting them with rent, utilities, gas, and basic necessities. Visit www.cflcc.org for information on how you can share your blessings with a family in need.