The holiday’s; it’s a time of the year most of us look forward to. Big dinners, the house is warmed with a turkey in the oven, and your family is gathered around the dining room table giving thanks for their blessings of the past year. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to provide that hot turkey, delicious pies, or even a warm home. That is where Food Banks, Soup Kitchens, and St. Vincent de Paul society comes in. You are provided with either the essentials to help you with your family meal, or a place to eat and enjoy conversation with others in your community.
Food Banks: Food banks are critical this time of the year. Often they will have food drives to help raise money and accept food donations. They always encourage non-perishable food items such as drinking water, canned soups, canned fruits and vegetables, and boxed meal kits. During the holidays, they ask for items like turkeys, hams, fresh fruits and vegetables, cranberry sauce and so much more. People often give more this time of the year to make sure that everyone in the community is taken care of. For those who are unable to cook a hot meal in their home, they always have the option of a soup kitchen.
Soup Kitchen: Soup kitchens are vital to our neighborhoods. Sometimes we go through a rough patch with unemployment and are unable to make ends meet. Instead of choosing between a warm meal or a warm home, you can hopefully enjoy both. If visiting a soup kitchen, you will be able to enjoy a hot turkey dinner with all the trimmings! You are served by a kind volunteer, and you will have other members of your community there to talk with. The holidays are a time of the year in which you should never spend alone, so a soup kitchen is able to keep you company as well. Don’t forget about another option in your area, a St. Vincent de Paul.
St. Vincent de Paul: St. Vincent de Paul’s are often found at your local Catholic Parish. Some offer food, toiletries, financial assistance and some even have their own community kitchen where they can serve hot meals. What makes St. Vincent de Paul different from a food bank is that it is part of the Catholic Church. All donations whether food or monetary go directly to St. Vincent’s. People from the community are welcome to donate non-perishable food, supermarkets often donate bread, desserts, chickens and fresh fruits and vegetables, but it is ran by members of that parish.
What’s even more fantastic is that with the help of Parish Giving and their forms; parishes can raise extra money during the holiday season for St. Vincent’s and their food pantry or kitchens. Although food donations are always higher this time of the year, sometimes it is not enough. They require extra turkeys, extra canned food and may even provide extra assistance that requires a monetary donation. If you parish has a second collection for the pantry, let us know and we can help with that too!
Other options: In today’s society, there is a faux pas when it comes to words like “soup kitchen” or “food bank” that people may not want to go there in fear of being a statistic. Instead there are places like JBJ Soul Kitchen, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, or Joseph’s Pantry. JBJ Soul Kitchen is local to New Jersey. They offer a three course meal (complete with dessert!) and you pay what you can. If you are not able to pay with money, then you donate an hour of your time (and this will pay up to four family members!).
Rosa’s Fresh Pizza may be in Philadelphia, but they became popular after they were shown on the Ellen Show! Here they have a unique “pay it forward” program where when you buy a slice of pizza, you can donate a slice to someone who is homeless. Their website (https://www.rosasfreshpizza.com/) states they usually serve 50-100 slices a day to the homeless! You can even donate an amount such as $5 and serve 5 slices of pizza if you do not live in the area.
As for Joseph’s Pantry, they offer more than just food for their guests; they offer toiletries, cleaning supplies, over the counter medication such as Tylenol and Advil, and much more! On their website (https://refinerychurchclt.com/josephs-pantry-food-storehouse/) they even inform you of what they are in need of for that week, or you can simply donate money online.
It’s the time of year where many of us feel as though we should give a little extra for those who do not have as much. Food banks, soup kitchens and other area food donation places are in need of our help. Offer what you can whether it is a can of soup, and hour of your time or $5. It will go further than you think.