Diocese of Paterson food pantries helping more than ever before

May 13, 2020

While businesses and organizations from around the state are discussing plans to reopen, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Paterson is currently assisting more people than ever before in their 80-year history.

“The services offered by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Paterson are simply immense. We remain operational to help those most in need,” said Scott Milliken, CEO. “Throughout the last several months, we have seen an increase in those who are seeking our vital services, while still doing nearly everything we did before.”

The major increase in calls for service centered on Emergency Support Programs and 3 food pantries.  These programs offer food, clothing, homelessness prevention services, rapid re-housing, and short or medium term financial assistance.

Catholic Charities gets more requests for assistance than ever before.  The case management team shared some of the requests that have come in over just the last two weeks:

– “I’m a single mother of children with special needs. I am in need of food and financial assistance.”

 – “I am asking God for his mercy every day. Can you please let me know where I can receive food?”

 – “I don’t want to bother, but I’m in need of food for my house. I have nothing at the moment and did not know whether you were open or not due to COVID-19.”

 – “I am a mom and domestic violence survivor. I am out of work because of COVID-19. Please help.”

 “So many of these people are first time visitors,” said Carlos Roldan, director of food pantries.  “Others have lost spouses and loved ones to COVID-19.  We do all we can to promote dignity and respect and make Catholic Charities a welcoming place for all.”

Most months the organization gives out food to between 5,000 and 7,000 people at the three food pantries. In April, the number nearly doubled, helping over 11,000 individuals in need.

During the pandemic the food pantries have adapted all of their services to safely serve those who need help. Usually food pantry services are consumer choice, but now all food is pre-bagged and brought outside to socially-distanced service recipients.

In addition, the organization has expanded their food pantries to support other programs.  For instance, food is delivered weekly to seniors at their day programs and meals are delivered weekly to people without homes who have been placed in hotels.

Catholic Charities would not be able to provide this increased level of support without help from the community.

“We are fortunate to have received an outpouring of love and support from the community,” said Chris Brancato, director of development. “Each day we are receiving donations and well-wishes from individuals throughout our communities and beyond who have never given to us before.  We have also been blessed to have support from community partners and funders, including the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, The Community Foodbank of New Jersey and Catholic Charities USA.  We must continue to help as many people as we can during this unprecedented time. The kindness of many helps us persevere forward.”

Catholic Charities has established a COVID-19 Fund to help relieve the increased costs associated with the pandemic and the increased need for their services. 

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