By Christina DeNovio
Although what seems to be the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us, over one-third of Washington, D.C., area residents still report having faced food insecurity. As food prices reach new heights and people struggle to purchase groceries, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington is providing relief with the help of the 2022 Virtual Food Drive.
A community fundraising campaign, the Virtual Food Drive will take place between Oct. 17 and Nov. 30 and incorporate Giving Tuesday and the #IGiveCatholic campaigns on Nov. 29. The Virtual Food Drive will aid multiple communities across Washington, D.C., along with Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, and Southern Maryland.
“Going to bed hungry and malnourished is an all too real and all too frequent experience for too many people,” says Msgr. John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities.
The agency provides food assistance through community food distributions, St. Maria’s Meals, three food pantries and the SHARE Food Network. Each has a distinct positive impact on residents:
- St. Maria’s Meals: By providing meals every week to low-income families and individuals, this program works to combat hunger on a regular basis. With three locations, St. Maria’s Meals reaches many members of our community with the help of volunteers who serve nutritious food to those in need. Last year, 62,355 meals were given out at the three locations.
- Spanish Catholic Center food pantry: Families can access SHARE Food packages filled with nutritious food items, including fruits and vegetables, frozen proteins and shelf staples, in Northwest Washington, along with ready-made meals. More than 8,200 people received food last year at the pantry’s distribution held on corner of Lamont Street NW and Mount Pleasant Street NW.
- Catholic Charities Center food pantry: Striving to serve members of the Montgomery County community, the food pantry of the Catholic Charities Center is one of the many ways this location provides assistance. Families in need, especially those with young children, can access fresh and shelf-stable foods, baby formula, diapers and more.
- Southern Maryland Food Bank: Providing food aid to communities in need for almost 40 years, the Southern Maryland Food Bank widened its reach as food insecurity has become more persistent. Last year alone, this project distributed enough food for more than 350,000 meals. This program offers a local food pantry, a community garden, a mobile food van and snack sacks for children and senior citizens lacking access to nutritious food.
- SHARE Food Network: With the help of volunteers, the SHARE Food Network provides nutritious grocery staples to customers at a significantly reduced rate, and its grocery packages are a mainstay of our free community food and pantry distributions. More than 92,600 grocery packages were distributed last year. SHARE welcomes anyone who is interested in helping package food as a volunteer.
Providing more than 2.9 million meals to those in need last year, Catholic Charities has maintained its ability to serve people through the generosity of donors and volunteers. As we enter the holiday season, one of the best gifts you can give your struggling neighbors is food security. We ask that you contribute for the good of those in need.
Christina DeNovio, a junior at Wake Forest University, is a fall 2022 intern at Catholic Charities.