Friday, March 19, 2010

A Place of Hope

Photo by John Sladewski
When Fred Despres (shown in center foreground above) and Jorge Almeida (in center rear above) came to the Saint Anthony Food Pantry to help distribute the 450 turkeys given out last November for Thanksgiving they were continuing the volunteer support of the pantry they both had been providing for many years.

Fred, a retired teamster who uses the skills learned from his employment in loading, unloading and moving pantry food and supplies, remembers that four years ago when he first started volunteering at the pantry some things such as the process for picking up food in Boston and the number of persons receiving aid were very different then they are now. He also notes that some other things, such as the desire of volunteers like himself to help others, are very much the same as they have always been. When asked about his involvement in the pantry Fred smiles and says that “it's a good way to keep busy”. Anyone who hears Fred and sees that smile knows that “keeping busy” at the pantry means a lot to Fred. He has strong memories associated with Saint Anthony's and with the neighborhood – he and his wife Jacqueline, who also works at the pantry, were married at the church and Fred's father had a variety store just two blocks away. Fred's sister Lorraine works at the pantry as well making Fred's time at Saint Anthony's very much a family activity.

Jorge has been working at the pantry for more than five years. He first came to the pantry because he needed food like so many others in New Bedford do. Jorge had learned about the the pantry from a friend and once he had visited he quickly decided he wanted to help. He saw the pantry as a place to serve others. Jorge's day at the pantry starts early with helping to set up tables for distributing food and continues with doing cooking preparation for the lunch that is provided each Thursday. Perhaps because of his original reason for coming to the pantry Jorge seems to share a particular empathy with those who come each week – he remembers seeing a lot of people come and go as their lives change. He remembers in particular one visitor who was very discouraged with life. Pantry volunteers went with that visitor into the church where they prayed together. Jorge feels that “We are more than a food pantry – we are a place of hope.” He remembers the number of persons coming to the pantry when he first started working here and when observing the growing numbers of people we serve now Jorge is pleased to be able to help address the increasing need for food and hope.

Many other volunteers support the efforts of the Saint Anthony Food Pantry. Their stories, as well stories of the visitors to the pantry, may inspire you to help. If you feel you can help, please call the coordinator of the food pantry, Paula Briden, at 508-993-1691, or email her at .

Monday, March 15, 2010

To Give Is to Receive

Last Christmas a woman who came to volunteer at the pantry took off the coat she was wearing and gave it to a woman who was standing in line waiting for food. When asked how she was going to get home on such a cold day without a coat she replied, "I have a warm car and another coat at home, that woman had none." This is just a snapshot of the type of people you are helping through our Food Pantry.

Maybe you don't have an extra coat but do you have an extra jar of peanut butter or box of cereal to give to someone who is hungry? And don't forget we are again participating in the Feinstein Million Dollar Give a Way for food pantries, which earned us $293.00 last year.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Feinstein Million Dollar Give-a-Way

During March and April we will again participate in the Feinstein Million Dollar Give a Way for food pantries. We count every item donated for those two months. Last year we had 12,000 donations and received a check for $293.00.

Spaghetti Supper / Sock Hop

Saturday April 10th is our first annual Spaghetti Supper/Sock Hop to be sponsored by the food pantry and youth group. A wonderful dinner followed by dancing to music from the 50s and 60s. There will be prizes given for the best male and female 50s costume. There will also be a hool-a-hoop competition and bubble blowing contest. . Tickets are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children (12 and under). They will be available from all youth group members and food pantry volunteers. So get out your poodle skirts and saddle shoes!

Donations Needed

Its been a long cold winter, still seeking donations of warm clothing and as always nonperishable food. Thanks for what you have given and thanks as well for what you will give.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


St. Anthony of Padua during his lifetime had a great love for the poor and served them as if he were serving Christ. He has been invoked for centuries as a special patron of feeding the poor and needy. In many cities, there sprung up the tradition of “St. Anthony’s bread,” giving bread to those who are hungry.

Here, each Thursday, from noon to 1:30 in the afternoon, our parish food pantry continues that tradition in the St. Anthony parish hall. While we are open every Thursday, our clients come on an every other week basis based on the first letter of their last name. A-L, then M-Z the following week.

Over the past years, our food pantry has continued to grow. Without the support and donations of so many caring people and companies, along with the dedication of our volunteer team, this growth in providing to those in need would not be possible.

In addition to providing those who participate a bag full of hearty staples and more to take home with them, we provides a warm meal of soup, sandwiches, pastries and drinks.

St. Anthony Food Pantry also hosts other special services for our clients.

Routinely, the Southcoast Mobile Van offers free blood pressure, cholesterol evaluations, as well as blood sugar readings to our participants within the Parish Hall.

Religious classes are offered every Thursday from 11:30 A.M.-12 P.M. The classes are offered in both English and Spanish.

A religious table is available offering our clients rosary beads, prayer booklets, and other religious items and religious material.

We also host The Baby Project. This independently run Project, requires that those who participate first register as a food pantry participant.

Volunteers Always Needed

To run a food pantry that helps so many families requires many volunteers doing many things. Among other things, there is a need for people to help:

  • Pack and unpack groceries
  • Sign in new participants
  • Manage crowd control at the door.
  • Prepare and serve soup, sandwiches, pastries and drinks.
  • Pick up food each month at the Greater Boston Food Bank’s New Bedford location.
  • Clean
  • Do various types of paperwork.

On Thursdays, many volunteers arrive at 10 am to get ready to open the food pantry. Others arrive later and help to close up the food pantry at 2 and clean afterward. Many help out the whole session. Volunteers are welcome to contribute as much time as they can. To volunteer, you may simply come by on a Thursday. You may also call the director of the food pantry, Paula Briden, at 508-993-1691, or email her at .

Other Opportunities to Help

Our food pantry has been blessed by the assistance of many business, churches and St. Vincent de Paul conferences. For example:

  • Parishes — In addition to the contributions of St. Anthony’s parishioners, who bring non-perishable food to the weekend Masses, other parishes help out. One notable one among others is St. Mary’s Parish in New Bedford, which collects twenty cases of food every eight weeks, helps out with thanksgiving turkey vouchers, with presents for poor families at Christmas and more.
  • St. Vincent de Paul Conferences — Vincentians from the Cape routinely bring bread for distribution.
  • Bakeries — Various local bakeries bring by surplus bread or donuts for distribution.
  • Schools — Youngsters at local schools, like St. Anthony’s elementary schools, take up regular collections of food for the needy at the pantry.
  • Religious orders — Various men and women religious in the area bring by boxes of food which have been given to them that go beyond their needs.

Our food pantry is always in need of more food to be able to help out the poor. If you belong to one of these groups or others and may be able to help, please call the director of the food pantry, Paula Briden, at 508-993-1691, or email her at .

Monetary Donations

The food pantry is always in need of money, to supplement donated food, to provide for soups and sandwiches, to purchase needed equipment for food and equipment storage. Donations can always be mailed to the St. Anthony’s Food Pantry, 1359 Acushnet Avenue, New Bedford, MA, 02746 or made online by clicking here

Our Biblical Inspiration

Jesus said to his disciples:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”