Parishioners of the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ludlow and Holy Name of Mary Church in Proctorsville have a food collection the first Sunday of every month, and they donate at other times too.

The collections benefit Black River Good Neighbor Services in Ludlow, the local food shelf and thrift store. Carol Baranowski of Holy Name of Mary Church is secretary of the organization and has helped with food-related services for several years.

“Food collections and donations are an important part of caring for our neighbors who might be in need,” she said. “With people out of work and perhaps struggling to put food on the table, we can all feel good about being a small part of making someone else’s life a little easier. It is a good opportunity to serve the Lord by serving our friends and neighbors.”

One of her tasks is to stop at BRGNS and find out what items are needed the most. She alerts her pastor, Father Thomas Mosher, who puts the list in the bulletin.

Recently there has been a need for tuna, pasta, pasta sauce, cereal, pancake mix and coffee. The needed items change from month to month.

“Usually I or another parishioner deliver the food items to BRGNS where they are made available to anyone in need,” Baranowski said. “It is like a small store with a long aisle with shelves stocked with food from donations and items bought from the Vermont Food Bank and other local grocery stores.”

The Catholic churches’ last formal collection was April 4; the next one will be May 2.

Usually four or five bags of food are collected; sometimes there are as many as 20.

The food collected comes from parishioners of both churches; prior to the pandemic,

it was collected in each church separately.

“It is important for the parish to engage in regular food collections because it draws us out of ourselves and into the lives of people whose poverty might be invisible to us. These people live near us in our village or in the surrounding townships, so they become our opportunity to serve the Lord in whomever He sends us,” Father Mosher said. “An organization such as Black River Good Neighbors connects us to the needy around us. They tell us what is needed food-wise so that we can meet the needs of our neighbors as they truly are, not simply as we might imagine them. According to the people who run BRGN, there is not a serious food insecurity problem here, but there is enough need that it keeps us from becoming complacent.”

Parishioners also donate money to be used purchase the needed items.

The churches been doing food collections for several years.

“I have found that Vermonters have a soft spot in their hearts for the poor, especially the working poor and struggling farmers,” Father Mosher said. “One mention of increased need brings out a generous response from my parishioners.”