“Part of our fraternal mission is to promote and conduct charitable and social welfare work,” said Patrick Deely, publicist for St. Victor’s Council 4112 in San Jose, Calif., in affirming the motive for the outreach initiatives of the Knights of Columbus.
“Poverty, homelessness, and hunger are important social welfare areas that we can and should engage in to make a positive difference.”
With that impetus of concern for the needy, the council began an ongoing project this past January: They’ve taken the lead role in organizing and managing a Food Pantry Ministry at St. Victor’s Parish.
And now, responding to a greater need due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Knights are continuing their work.
The pantry started in January with plans to distribute free groceries every fourth Saturday in partnership with the local Second Harvest Food Bank. Second Harvest distributes donated and purchased foods to a number of local partner churches and organizations, which in turn sort and deliver the goods to needy families who come to them for assistance. The food bank also provides nutritious summer meals to kids and teens who qualify for free or reduced price school meals, offers nutrition education and food safety classes, assists applicants in enrolling for the CalFresh food benefits program, and advocates for legislation and policy changes to better address the issue of hunger.
Poverty is an urgent problem in the region, Deely said.
“The poverty rate in San Jose is 10%, which translates to 101,651 of 1,012,230 San Jose residents reporting income levels below the poverty line in the last year,” he pointed out. “Additionally, the percentage of households receiving food stamps is 1.7%, or 5,292 households out of 319,558.”
Under the direction of Florante Del Rosario and David Ojeda, the Knights of Council 4112 assembles the volunteers to sort, bag and deliver food to homes. In February, St. Victor’s Food Pantry Ministry distributed 8,560 pounds of packaged groceries and 11,150 pounds of produce to 298 families, thereby feeding 911 individuals.
During California’s mandatory “shelter-in-place” for the COVID-19 pandemic, the pantry operated out of the parish hall from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. three days a week so as to continue serving families in need.
But it’s about more than distributing food, Deely said. It’s also about educating the parish community and finding solutions to the problem of hunger.
“Our Food Pantry Ministry aims primarily to share and spread the gospel message of service by creating an awareness in our parish community of the realities of hunger,” he explained. “It also aims to learn more about how we can help and make a difference in our larger community of San Jose and beyond.”
Share your story of how your council is helping strengthen people’s faith and offering support during this time. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in a special bi-weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline’s monthly archives, click here.
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