In addition to its own outreach, the St. Vincent de Paul conference in St. Katharine Drexel Parish offers the All Saints Church campus parking lot to “Fresh For All,” which helps feed people in need.  Staff photos
In addition to its own outreach, the St. Vincent de Paul conference in St. Katharine Drexel Parish offers the All Saints Church campus parking lot to “Fresh For All,” which helps feed people in need. Staff photos
The impact of the coronavirus has definitely had an impact on the number of people in need of basic necessities such as food – so say those who work close with such ministries.

Faithful from Epiphany Parish, Brick, and St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Burlington, say they have seen an increase in the number of people seeking assistance since COVID-19 restrictions took effect in mid-March.

“There is definitely an increase in new clients who are in need of food and new to our Helping Hands parish food pantry, as well as our regular clients,” said Michele Evans, administrative assistant for religious education in Epiphany Parish, Brick.

“Right before COVID-19, the numbers in the pantry were increasing to about 350 people per month. Since COVID-19, we have increased to about 675 people monthly,” she said of the ministry, which operates out of the parish hall located on the corner of Herbertsville and Thiele Roads, Brick.

Helping Hands hosts a food drop-off on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the parish hall. Those wanting to help are asked to remain in their vehicles upon arrival and have donations in their trunks. Donors should pull up near the main doors, and volunteers will remove the items. 

The St. Vincent de Paul conference in St. Katharine Drexel Parish, meanwhile, has seen a slight increase in the number of those seeking assistance, said Sharon Kenzler, food pantry coordinator. She noted that the society assists about 150 clients each month and distributes more than 12,000 pounds of food.

In May, that increased to 361 clients and the distribution of 14,500 pounds of food, which includes dairy, breads, desserts, canned and boxed foods, cereals, juice, fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs, canned fruits and personal items. Monetary donations are also collected.

Kenzler noted that the conference food pantry is open every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. to both Burlington City and Township patrons. On Tuesdays, the conference offers the All Saints Church campus parking lot to “Fresh For All,” an outreach from Philabundance – the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley. The conference donates breads, desserts and extra canned goods to “Fresh For All,” which provides outreach to 80 to 120 patrons each week. 

Kenzler acknowledged that a host of faithful from the parish SVDP conference volunteer with “Fresh For All,” including conference president Jeff Robertson.

“We are a strong team that work strongly together,” Kenzler said. “We are blessed to have such wonderful volunteers.”