Parishioners of Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish and students from Christ the King School in Burlington participated in the Diocese of Burlington’s St. Joseph the Provider Feed the Hungry Initiative, collecting items for Feeding Chittenden, formerly known as the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.

Approximately 1,400 pounds of non-perishable food and toiletries were donated to the Lenten parish project as well as nearly $500 in cash and gift cards.

Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne “has encouraged each parish in the Diocese to address food insecurity in their community” during the Year of St. Joseph, said Kathleen Bush, chair of the social outreach committee at Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish. “Msgr. [John] McDermott, [pastor,] had also expressed a wish for the parish to have a project during Lent that would involve as many parishioners as possible. So the committee chose to address both issues by holding this food drive.”

It took place March 7 from 2-3:30 p.m. in the parking lot at St. Anthony Church.

“I personally participated in this event because I have been so humbled by the needs of our community with regards to food insecurity,” Bush said. “We are asked, as Catholics, as part of our works of mercy to feed the hungry, and this was an opportunity to do just that.”

Due to Covid-19 regulations, persons donating were asked to place their donations into the trunk or back seat of their car, drive to the parking lot at St. Anthony’s and follow the cones to the drop-off station. There, they popped open their trunk, and volunteers removed the items. “There was a steady stream of cars for the 1 1/2 hours that the drive was operating,” Bush said.

Feeding Chittenden provided a van for the donations to be transported. “Our goal was to completely fill the van, and thus we called the project ‘Cram the Van,’” she said. “We stuffed the van from floor to ceiling, side to side and even the front passenger seat.”

When last-minute donations came in, there was no room left in the van and so another vehicle was used to deliver the final donations.

“We were so pleased with the incredible generosity of our parish community and have already discussed hosting another such event, possibly in May in honor of St. Joseph the Worker,” Bush said.

“Due to the pandemic, nearly 30 percent of Vermonters have been experiencing food insecurity since March 2020,” Bishop Coyne said. “I began the St. Joseph the Provider Feed the Hungry Initiative to harness the goodwill of the Catholic community through our 68 parishes to increase food donations and volunteer capacity at food shelves throughout the state so no one goes hungry. Together, the Catholic community can make a huge difference and answer the call to care for the most vulnerable among us.”