Parishioners of the three churches in the Essex Catholic Community donated to a special food drive May 1-2 in honor of St. Joseph the Provider.

The effort was part of the diocesan-wide St. Joseph the Provider Feed the Hungry Initiative.

The food drive garnered 750 pounds of food, and the Knights of Columbus Bishop Rice Council delivered the food to three local food shelves: Heavenly Pantry, Aunt Dot’s Place and the Essex-Jericho-Underhill Ecumenical Food Shelves.

“Parishioners are involved in all three well-stacked food shelves, and weekly collections take place in all three churches plus parishioners donate when shopping at local food markets,” said Edmundite Father Charles Ranges, pastor of Holy Family and St. Lawrence churches in Essex Junction and St. Pius X Church in Essex Center.

Parishioners also support the food shelves financially.

“Obviously, feeding the hungry is important,” Father Ranges said. “It is a Gospel mandate and no one anywhere in the world should go hungry.”

Food insecurity in Vermont reached record levels during the Covid-19 pandemic, so in this Year of St. Joseph, Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne announced the new coordinated effort, the St. Joseph the Provider Feed the Hungry Initiative, to increase the Catholic Church’s capacity to feed the hungry in Vermont.

In the Diocese of Burlington, there are 68 parishes, most of which are engaged in feeding the hungry. “From operating their own food pantries, to partnering with local food shelves to hosting regular food drives, our Catholic community is already actively engaged in feeding the hungry,” he said. “I began this initiative to increase our efforts across our Diocese to meet the growing need for food in the community.”