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Parish Food Distribution: A Miracle of Sufficiency

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By Greg Kepferle, CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

It was 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, March 17, 2020 when Santa Clara County Public Health officials, along with their peers in surrounding counties, implemented California’s first regional shelter-in-place order to protect residents from the pandemic and slow hospital admission rates.

That afternoon, Catholic Charities and Second Harvest had previously scheduled the weekly Community Market at Our Lady of Refuge Parish in East San Jose. Recognizing the urgent need to keep clients, parishioners, volunteers and staff safe from the pandemic, the team quickly pivoted from the farmer’s market style operation to a touchless, drive-through food-box delivery system.

Word spread. Demand nearly doubled. And then it rained.

Then when the City of San Jose and Second Harvest asked Catholic Charities to help with food distribution, we knew we needed more parish sites with large enough parking lots to meet the demand. Bishop Cantú put out the call to pastors and they responded quickly.

Since that first drive-through three weeks ago, Catholic Charities, with the help of the Diocese of San Jose and Second Harvest Silicon Valley, has launched seven drive-through food distribution sites operating six days a week. St. Lucy’s in Campbell starts on Good Friday. At least five more parishes are in the pipeline.

I had the honor on Saturday to assist with the Santa Teresa Parish food distribution. The team of 35 staff and volunteers were inspired by the vision of Father Jon Pedigo, Catholic Charities Director for Advocacy and Community Engagement, and efficiently organized by Araceli Gonzales, Catholic Charities Director of Disaster Response Services. Teams quickly registered families in cars, directed traffic, and put food boxes in trunks without drivers leaving their cars. Just in the first 45 minutes we distributed food boxes to nearly 160 families.

And we had an abundance of food. A miracle of sufficiency.

For a full listing of parish food distribution sites, please visit https://www.catholiccharitiesscc.org/covid19-information