BY LORRI ORWIG
Providing food to people in need has been a cornerstone of Catholic Charities services for years through the daily hot lunches at the Marian House Kitchen. We also provide food boxes to seniors and emergency food bags to families and individuals in case management. These options are important but have not been part of a larger program to supplement a household’s monthly food support regularly.
Today, plans are underway to open a food pantry at the Marian House in January 2021 to bring all Catholic Charities nutrition assistance under one program. Clients using the pantry will have access to wrap-around services as they work with a case manager to move toward increased stability and receive a monthly food box that will allow them to stretch their limited resources further.
Many of the households we serve are experiencing food insecurity in addition to crises around housing, employment, and access to healthcare. This program allows Catholic Charities to address all four of these areas in a more meaningful way while case managers work alongside clients to create a plan for stability.
During the past seven months, the Marian House made changes to the daily meal service due to COVID-19. We saw many households struggle with access to food. With the closure of two partner agencies – ESM and REACH – where many of our clients received nutrition support, it was natural to explore nutrition opportunities for families already engaging with Catholic Charities in other programs.
“During the pandemic, we converted the cafeteria-style dining room with picnic tables, to pre-plated, pre-set meals at round tables – more like a restaurant. Many of our chronically homeless population have moved to SRM for their noon-time meal, freeing up our family dining room, which will now house the pantry,” said Andy Barton, CEO of Catholic Charities.
“The location is perfect because of the volume of people accessing our services each day at the Marian House Campus,” said Lorri Orwig, Sr. VP of Operations. “We envision shelf-stable food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and perhaps, a variety of prepared foods from our kitchen for a family to take home.”
Partnerships are vital to our programs’ success and this includes the work we do with Care and Share, allowing us to provide The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) for families and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) for seniors. With the support of our longtime food donors, both individual and retail, we envision a pantry filled with a variety of shelf-stable, fresh, and prepared items that will allow the households we serve to stretch their food dollars. Hours of operation and information about enrollment into the program will be announced in the coming weeks.
Lorri Orwig is the Sr. V.P. of Operations at Catholic Charities of Central Colorado