“Many families have been hit really hard during the pandemic, and food insecurity is a real problem,” said Veronica Hershberger, lay ecclesial minister, director of religious education and administrative assistant at Our Lady of Grace Church in Colchester. “It’s important for our parish to support the Colchester Food Shelf because we are directly helping families in our own parish as well as the local community.”

The parish had a food collection during the diocesan-wide May 1 and 2 St. Joseph the Provider Feed the Hungry Initiative initiated in this Year of St. Joseph by Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne to increase the Catholic Church’s capacity to feed the hungry in Vermont in response to the increasing need for food. The Our Lady of Grace collection was part of the parish’s regular, ongoing food collection.

“All our parishes are involved in multiple social ministries to help the most vulnerable among us. This initiative will harness the goodwill of the Catholic community to increase our capacity to ensure no one goes hungry by partnering with existing organizations and meeting the need,” Bishop Coyne said.

The Our Lady of Grace food collection garnered 225.5 pounds of non-perishable foods like peanut butter, jelly, pasta, sauces, macaroni, rice, macaroni and cheese, soups, tuna fish, canned vegetables plus some personal care items and monetary donations.

All donations stay in the Colchester community and were delivered to the Colchester Food Shelf as are all the parish’s monthly food drive donations.

The parish has partnered with the Colchester Food Shelf for more than 20 years through the “Not Just Food” program.  “The five congregations in Colchester (Our Lady of Grace, Holy Cross, The United Church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal and Malletts Bay Congregational) have been faithfully and heartily supporting the Colchester Food Shelf for years with an increased commitment to support them since it moved to its new location on Main Street in Colchester,” Harshbarger said. “We are called to feed the hungry through the Corporal Works of Mercy. Having our [Our Lady of Grace] food donation baskets at the entrances of the church allows people the opportunity to do so on a weekly basis. We encourage people to bring items every week when they come to Mass.”

Although the parish has an ongoing reminder and request for donations in the bulletin that includes a new requested item every month, for the St. Joseph the Provider weekend, parishioners were encouraged to bring any kind of items, not just the requested items for May.

The collection was “part of our ongoing support from the parishes of Colchester in support of Colchester Food Shelf and our call to feed the hungry,” commented Father William Beaudin, pastor.

“Our Lady of Grace will continue to encourage people to make weekly donations which we deliver to the Colchester Food Shelf,” Harshbarger said.