In a service activity for Hunger Action Month, more than 20 parishioners from the Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick in Harrisburg volunteered at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank on Sept. 11, amassing 42 service hours for the organization.
The service project was an activity of the parish’s Mercy Matters Committee. Established early last year, the committee’s mission is “to educate, plan, organize and engage parishioners in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and respond to current social needs” and build relationships with local outreach ministries.
Following an overview of the effort the food bank undertakes to distribute food – especially fresh and healthy items – to people in 27 counties, parishioners worked in the 75,000-square-foot warehouse. Divided into groups, they counted and sorted stacks of 100 mesh bags for produce, bagged cobs of corn, and sorted and boxed cabbage heads and broccoli clusters.
Amy Hill, Director of Community Engagement and Advocacy at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and a member of the Cathedral Parish, told fellow parishioners that 8 million Pennsylvanians struggle with food insecurity. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are in danger of starvation, but rather have anxiety about where their next meal will come from, she said.
“The goal of the Mercy Matters Committee is to educate our parishioners and activate them, to get them involved in the Works of Mercy,” said Daniel Reisteter, committee chair and a member of the food bank’s board.
“Feeding the hungry is a Corporal Work of Mercy, and the Cathedral Parish is a partner agency of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, so this effort was a natural fit,” he said.
The committee hosted a presentation on human trafficking in May, and one on immigration in August. Reisteter said future presentations on prison ministry, the death penalty and other social justice topics are being discussed.
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness