Thanks to thoughtful planning and generous parishioners, the food pantries of Catholic Charities in Paterson, NJ, are fully stocked throughout each summer, providing a feast of food to children and families at a time when pantries often run short.
Anticipating the usual low level of summer food donations and the greater needs of clients, Catholic Charities Paterson launched in 2014 an annual late-spring “Feast of Corpus Christi” diocesan-wide food drive. That year, over 80 parishes participated, with each assigned a food item to collect to ensure that there would be large quantities of all needed food items. Once collected, the food donations were distributed to Catholic Charities Paterson food pantries and also to 47 parish pantries.
Summer food pantry shortages result from summer vacations taken by schools and regular parishioners. Catholic Charities Paterson is heavily reliant on parishes and schools for food donations. At the same time there is a greater demand for food, especially for children because school-related meal and snack programs do not operate during the summer months.
The idea for the food drive came to Catholic Charities Paterson President Joe Duffy when he remembered the Bible story of Joseph in Egypt who prepared the country and region for the coming of famine while they were still enjoying the time of plenty. Catholic Charities Paterson could do the same.
Duffy took the idea of an annual late-spring diocesan-wide food drive to the diocese’s Vicar General, Msgr. Jim Mahoney. Msgr. Mahoney liked the idea and suggested connecting it to the Feast of Corpus Christi.
“What better way to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ) than to literally feed the Body of Christ,” he said.
With the enthusiastic approval of Bishop Serratelli and the diocesan consulters, Duffy and Msgr. Mahoney put the plan in motion. That enthusiasm carried over to parishioners.
“There was tremendous excitement in our parishes as they participated in this first annual Feast of Corpus Christi Food Drive,” said Duffy.