Franciscan brothers kick off holiday food shelf

| November 19, 2010 | 0 Comments

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the eight Franciscan Brothers of Peace who live in the Queen of Peace Friary in St. Paul are hustling to make sure the poor of St. Paul and beyond can enjoy a bountiful meal on that day and ward off hunger throughout the holiday season.

As is their annual tradition, the brothers are once again getting ready to open their Holiday Food Shelf for two 10-day periods before each holiday. The first began Nov. 15 and runs through Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. The second runs from Dec. 13 to Dec. 23. They anticipate serving about 550 families total during those two periods.

“There’s a great need,” said Brother Pio King, who noted that the brothers run an emergency food shelf the other 10 months of the year. “I think it’s probably increased 50 percent in the last year. We used to have light days at the beginning of the month. It doesn’t happen anymore.”

Typically, their food shelf serves about 240 families a month. Those who visit during the holiday season will receive a turkey (Thanksgiving) or ham (Christmas), a bag of groceries, produce, personal items and bread.

“The food comes from schools — Catholic schools, particularly — families, individuals, businesses that take up a collection, parishes and small groups,” Brother Pio said. “It’s an enormous amount of food we need to give away during the holidays. We accept it all the way up to Christmas.”

Brother Pio offered the following list of accepted items: frozen turkeys and hams, potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pasta, spaghetti sauce, tuna, canned fruit, gift certificates, cash donations and just about any other food item people would like to donate.

“I think it has been very successful,” Brother Pio said of the holiday food shelf, which has been going ever since the friary opened in 1989. “There’s been a generous response from people with donations. And, the people receiving it are happy and grateful to have those things.”

Brother Pio added that having a food shelf during the holidays and throughout the year is at the heart of their ministry at the friary, located at 1289 Lafond, Ave.

“I think it’s very important for us to be directly serving the poor, with very little red tape, to maximize human dignity and do one of the corporal works of mercy,” he said. “Direct contact is important for us. We get to meet the poor at the door, meet Christ at the door. Sometimes, people need someone to listen to them.”

Most of the people who come call ahead to schedule an appointment. However, walk-ins also are welcome. For more information, or to donate to the holiday food shelf, call Brother Pio at the friary at (651) 646-8586.

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