These changing times have brought new burdens for people across the Washington, D.C., area.
Catholic Charities DC is seeing an extraordinary increase in requests for food assistance. These calls for help are coming from the thousands of people we help every year — and the many now facing food insecurity after losing their jobs in the coronavirus public health emergency.
During Holy Thursday services, the washing of feet reminds us of the humility of service. It is in acts of selfless giving that this growing need in our community can be answered.
In announcing a Holy Thursday Virtual Drive, Catholic Charities DC offers an opportunity to give neighbors in need access to a basic need — food.
“The rite of washing of the feet — symbolizing the humility of service — takes place during Holy Thursday service. There is no better time to have our neighbors in the District and Maryland make the selfless act of helping those dealing with the heavy burdens of this crisis,” said Msgr. John J. Enzler, president and CEO.
Contributions will support Catholic Charities food programs in D.C. and Maryland, including Cup of Joe breakfast snack bags, three food pantries, SHARE Food Network, Southern Maryland Food Bank and St. Maria’s Meals. These efficiently run programs serve thousands weekly.
SHARE Food Network, for example, assists thousands of community organizations and individuals in buying healthy groceries at a discount. Cup of Joe breakfast snack bags are handed out to 1,500 people every day at our homeless shelters. Southern Maryland Food Bank oversees emergency food distribution to 30 community pantries, a food pantry and food truck of its own, and snack saks for school children and seniors. St. Maria’s Meals serves hundreds of nutritious meals each week in the District and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Catholic Charities’ three food pantries in D.C., and Silver Spring and Waldorf, Md., are busier than ever.
The food pantry in northwest Washington reported an 80 percent increase in new clients in late March and anticipate that number to increase as the crisis continues. On one recent day, it distributed bags of food to more than 600 people, six times as many as normal. To more effectively help the growing number of hungry in this crisis, the pantry is now incorporating grocery gift cards in its distribution.
Catholic Charities fights year-round against hunger. In 2019, the agency more than 2.5 million meals to those in need and distributed more than 1 million pounds of food to local pantries. About 16,000 warm meals were served through the weekly St. Maria’s Meals dinner program, and more than 34,000 people purchased affordable, nutritious groceries through the SHARE Food Network.