As the coronavirus pandemic enters its tenth month, Catholic Charities is reminding the community that those in need of food can visit one of its nine food pantries. Since March, Catholic Charities’ food pantries have served almost 7,000 individuals, including children. This is an increase of about 75% from the same time last year. The nine pantries have also distributed tens of thousands of food items, and hygiene and paper products throughout the region.
“Catholic Charities’ food pantries are among the most essential of our many services that we have and carried on without missing a beat during the pandemic,” said Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO, Catholic Charities. “All of our staff and volunteers have stepped up to do everything possible to help our neighbors struggling to make ends meet.”
Here are the locations for the Catholic Charities food pantries:
• Bishop Edward U. Kmiec Food Pantry & Outreach, 920 Tifft St., Buffalo
• Franklinville Outreach, 28 Park Square, Franklinville
• Joyce Family Food Pantry & Outreach, 67 E. Pearl St., Wellsville
• Kenmore Food Pantry, 3370 Delaware Ave., Kenmore
• Lovejoy Food Pantry & Outreach, 139 North Ogden St., Buffalo
• Rich St. Food Pantry & Outreach, 930 Genesee St., Buffalo
• Russell J. Salvatore Food Pantry & Outreach, 75 Caldwell Place, Lackawanna
• Fulton St. - St. Brigid Food Pantry & Outreach, 170 Fulton St., Buffalo
• Town Square Food Pantry, 2710 North Forest Road, Getzville
The Buffalo-Niagara region continued to experience poverty growth of 5% before the pandemic, according to a report by the Mobile Safety-Net Team of The John R. Oishei Foundation in partnership with the University at Buffalo Regional Institute. It’s no surprise then that the impact of the virus has forced people like Jennifer and Robert to seek help at Catholic Charities pantries for the very first time.
“As a single mom with an 11-year-old son, I find myself doing a lot of firsts because of the pandemic,” said Jennifer, a South Buffalo resident. Included in her firsts, Jennifer said she is now home schooling her son and utilizing a Catholic Charities food pantry, something she never saw herself doing. “But I am so grateful to Catholic Charities and so glad you are here. This is really going to help us during these tough times.”
“I was doing okay - on the edge with money and bills, but doing okay,” commented Robert, another resident of South Buffalo who also unexpectedly finds himself at a Catholic Charities food pantry. “Things changed when my mom couldn't keep up with her bills and moved in with me,” he said. Because of Catholic Charities, “My mom and I have one less worry each month. We are very happy that the pantry is here to help.”
The Catholic Charities COVID-19 helpline, established to more quickly connect Western New Yorkers to the crucial services they need right now, has fielded more than 1,100 calls since it began in April. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please call 716-218-1419 between 8:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., Monday - Friday.
Schumer added, “Although it has been an extremely difficult year for all of us, Catholic Charities is grateful for our unique ability to be a beacon of hope in this storm. Christmas is a season of hope and is a fitting time to acknowledge the support and donation of funds, products and volunteer hours Western New Yorkers have so generously given throughout 2020.”
Since March, the comprehensive human services organization has assisted nearly 35,000 individuals and families across all faiths and through all of its programs, which include basic emergency assistance, counseling, mental health and substance use treatment, WIC, workforce and education services, school based services, parenting and domestic violence programs, care management and others, in all eight counties of Western New York. Additional information about Catholic Charities’ services can be found at ccwny.org/services.