“What dignity can a person ever hope to find,” the Pope asked the parliament, “when he or she lacks food and the bare essentials for survival….?”

Pope Francis addressing the European Union, November 25, 2014

In the past few months, our St. Lucy pantries in Alexandria, Front Royal, and Leesburg have seen an increase of families in need of food.

Most families who come to our food pantries and those in our parishes are experiencing a major crisis that alters their finances, such as a job loss or a medical emergency. At that point, their paycheck no longer covers all of their needs, and it doesn’t last through the end of the month.

Trying to buy fresh and healthy foods diminishes their buying power even more. Research shows a significant association between food insecurity and health risks such as diabetes and obesity. Factors range from lack of access to healthy foods, to the ease and low cost of fast food, to the lack of knowledge of preparing produce.

Gift of Fresh Food - Broccoli for St Lucy Project - Arlington Catholic Charities

St. Lucy Project Helps Families Eat Better

However, St. Lucy patrons can receive fresh and healthy foods – for free.

“Not only do we offer food, but also good health and a longer lease on life,” said Sherri Longhill, Program Director for the St. Lucy Project. “In this sense, our program is truly transformational.”

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are donated from parishes, grocers and farmers. Some are purchased for pennies on the dollar from local food banks.

Giving Time to Give Fresh Food

On October 30, the Holy Innocents Homeschool Co-op from the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania area volunteered with Catholic Charities to glean broccoli from Parker Farms in Westmoreland County. This was possible through a partnership with the Northern Neck Food Bank.

About 30 parents and children picked 1,100 lbs. of broccoli. The produce was shared with patrons who visit St. Matthew’s pantry in Spotsylvania and other pantries in the St. Lucy network.

The homeschool co-op volunteers at St. Matthew’s pantry once a week. Danya Ivory, pictured above with her son Joseph, helped establish the relationship between the co-op and the pantry almost five years ago.

“Many families at our pantry are battling health issues and struggling to get the right foods,” Ivory said. “Being able to give them fresh broccoli is an amazing addition.”

Did you know?

Healthy foods can be less appealing if you don’t know how to prepare them. Catholic Charities’ Healthy Eating Initiative gives out meal bags with recipes and ingredients. We also have cooking demonstrations to teach patrons about buying and preparing seasonal produce.

* * *

Your gifts have a direct impact on the amount of healthy food we provide.

A gift of $180 will cover the cost of milk and eggs that we give out each week at Christ House in Alexandria. A gift of $750 will cover our weekly food budget at Loaves and Fishes in Front Royal. We also need commercial refrigeration at our Manassas hub to be able to give out more perishable food.

To make a gift of any size, please visit the donation portal on our main website or contact James Michels, Vice President of Development, at (703) 841-3841 or JMichels@ccda.net. To volunteer at our St. Lucy Food Pantries or to start a parish or group collection please contact Debra Beard at dbeard@ccda.net

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