Over the past few months, COVID-19 has transformed how people go about their daily lives. Many businesses have temporarily closed, leaving workers struggling to afford necessities like groceries each week. During this challenging time, one thing that hasn’t changed is the commitment of Catholic Charities to serve the Greenville community.

Early in the spread of COVID-19, the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in Greenville temporarily suspended services to evaluate protocols to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, and the families being served. Since reopening, the office has seen a steady increase in families coming for food.

“Before COVID-19, we saw about 40 families a week. Since reopening, we have seen our numbers spike. Some weeks the number of families seeking assistance has increased by approximately fifty percent,” shared Liz McDowell, Catholic Charities Tar River Program Director.

Contributing to the increase in demand for services is the fact that fewer food pantries are operating during this time. Prior to COVID-19, there were over 20 food pantries distributing food to the community. With the challenges associated with distributing food during this pandemic, that number has been cut by about half.

“We want families to know they can come to us as it becomes more challenging for them to find groceries,” shared McDowell. “Families just need to call the office and leave a message with their name and contact number to get started with our food pantry services.”

Families can call the Catholic Charities main line at (252)355-5111 and choose extension 206 to leave their name and number. Once families contact Catholic Charities, they will receive a return call to gather basic demographic information and to schedule an appointment for drive through food pickup.

The food bags distributed by Catholic Charities will vary based on what is available. The office tries to provide canned tuna or chicken, mac & cheese, two cans of canned vegetables, a can of fruit, a can of beans, and pasta and sauce. There are also times when staff are able to secure fresh produce to share with families. Families are able to access this resource once every 30 days.

Catholic Charities is relying on the support of the community to meet this growing need. Common items like cereal, pasta, and rice are always valuable. The need for other in-kind donations are constantly changing. Individuals looking to make an in-kind donation can visit www.CatholicCharitiesRaleigh.org/COVID19 for a list of current needs.

“In addition to in-kind donations, financial donations are very beneficial, especially at this time,” shared McDowell. “Due to relationships we have with food distributors, we are able to make bulk purchases of food at a highly discounted rate, compared to what is available on shelves in the local grocery story.”

To make a financial contribution to support food distribution in response to this pandemic, individuals can visit www.CatholicCharitiesRaleigh.org/help-now.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support we have already received from the community,” shared McDowell. “Recently I was able to deliver food to an elderly individual who was not able to leave their house. When I brought them their food, they broke down in tears. We would not have had the ability to help this individual if not for the generosity of so many here in Greenville.”