Grant program feeds parish, community

By Maureen Smith
BRUCE – Volunteers from Bruce St. Luke the Evangelist Parish and other area churches hand out 300 boxes of food every month thanks in part to a grant from the Catholic Foundation. The parish got the grant in 2013 and used the money to purchase and outfit a trailer, supply it with water, electricity and order monthly shipments from the Mississippi Food Network.

Lay Ecclesial Minister Deborah Holmes said the effort is making a huge impact on the community. “A lot of people who were getting SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) benefits got cut, so they are more needy as far as food goes,” explained Holmes.

Cases of food wait to be boxed inside the food pantry at Bruce St. Luke Parish. A grant from the Catholic Foundation paid to outfit the pantry and a trailer to move the food. The parish has given out 300 boxes of food in a month. (Photo by Deborah Holmes)

“This was a bad winter so many of our families had higher utility bills as well,” she added. The trailer holds 6,000 pounds of food and while Holmes tries to hold some in reserve for people who run out of food between deliveries she has had months when the food runs out quickly.

Holmes said volunteers from some local Methodist churches help staff and supply the food pantry. Volunteers get the food from the Mississippi Food Network. Another day people come pack boxes while on a third day volunteers load the boxes into the cars of those in need, drive-through style. Holmes said not only is the pantry feeding those in need, it’s giving members of her community, especially the young people, a chance to live the gospel.

“We have young people who would not miss a chance to be here. One young man drives his brother and a couple of other teenagers here every time we are working,” she said. Many of the teenagers have to drive a substantial distance to get to the St. Luke in rural Calhoun County, but they come for all three chances to help.

“Currently the Catholic Foundation has 34 trusts that provide grants to support projects for parishes, schools, Catholic Charities and other diocesan ministries,” said Rebecca Harris, executive director of the foundation.

“The food pantry that St. Luke provides for the community of Bruce is a perfect example of the kinds of projects that the foundation is looking to support. We love the idea that it involves people of all ages and religions who are working together to help out people in need. We appreciate and support the good work done by St. Luke,” she added.

The foundation invites any school or parish with a specific project or need to apply for grant money. Applications are accepted from August 1-31 and are available on the Catholic Foundation page of the diocesan website,