Catholic Charities of Central Florida’s mission is to serve those in need as they follow the Gospel of Matthew 25, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink.” Following this verse, the team noticed a dire need to expand the food pantry at headquarters in Orange County to best serve those in need.
Juan Vega, Food Ministry Manager, noted the expansion will “provide more space that is really needed for food storage [so] we can accept more opportunities when it comes to food and give better options to the people we serve.”
When Vega started at Catholic Charities approximately five years ago, the ministry looked very different. He felt as though there wasn’t a goal for the ministry other than the food, and something was missing. So, when he heard about the plans for expansion, he was ecstatic.
“I’m super excited that after all this hard work, we are finally enjoying the fruits of our labor,” Vega exclaimed. “The warehouse is going to give us the space we need to properly store food as well as pursue better donor opportunities that we are unable to [fulfill] now because of the space.”
The department managed 1.6 million pounds of food at the Semoran Boulevard location during the 2020-2021 year. With the expansion, Vega said the diocesan Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will have more room to prepare supplies for deployment and host bigger groups of volunteers.
The expansion will take approximately 7-10 months depending on availability of materials and the project bidding process. Catholic Charities is receiving funds from the Orange County Community Development Block Grant.
Deacon Gary Tester, President of Catholic Charities said, “[The grant] we received from Orange County to create a new 1800 sq ft. building will tremendously increase our capacity to handle/move food to our numerous pantries.”
Vega is hopeful and excited to see how the food ministry will flourish with this expansion as he shares, “God is good to us all the time.”
If you would like to volunteer at the food pantry, please visit: https://cflcc.org/volunteer/
By Lana Kaczmarek, Special to the Florida Catholic, November 22, 2022