More people are turning to Catholic Charities for food during these days of rising costs, while at the same time the agency has trouble meeting the demand because of a shortage of volunteers.
There has been a 35-percent increase in the number of people coming to the Catholic Charities soup kitchen in Allentown, and a 25-percent increase in attendance at the agency’s soup kitchen in Pottsville, according to Rob Nicolella, Catholic Charities Executive Director.
But those kitchens have a hard time finding enough volunteers for the days they are open, and they would like to add additional service days each week, so even more volunteers are needed.
The Allentown kitchen serves Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays, and would like to add Sunday as a service day. In Pottsville, free meals are served Monday through Thursday, and they would like to serve Saturdays and Sundays too.
“We need volunteers for all days,” said Nicolella. “The people we have are really dedicated, but it would be really nice if they had some help, to avoid burnout.”
The increased demand for food also can be seen at the agency’s food pantry at the Catholic Charities office in Allentown. Now they are giving out about 20 boxes of food a week, sometimes to clients who are at the offices for other services, and sometimes to people who simply show up at the door hungry.
Meanwhile, Catholic Charities’ own costs are rising, including the operating costs at soup kitchens for such items as electricity and gas, and for purchased food.
Anyone who can help by volunteering their time at one of the soup kitchens, or anyone who can help through a monetary donation, should contact Bob Olney at Catholic Charities, firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-435-1541 x327.