Knights of Columbus Council 4563 and the parishioners of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro shared their generosity with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Nashville to feed the hungry.
The Knights have been supporting the food pantry at St. Rose by organizing food drives when the pantry is running low.
The Knights bought more than 350 reusable branded grocery bags that parishioners can pick up after Masses on designated weekends. In the bags are a list of the food items the pantry needs. Parishioners return the bags filled with food the following weekend, explained Matt Owens, the community program director for Council 4563.
“This program has worked very well for stocking the pantry as well as helping our parishioners with a way to help give back, so much so that we are planning to purchase more bags,” Owens said.
“Our parishioners are now giving to a point that our pantry last month was not in need of food,” Owens said.
“We thought there’s got to be somebody who needs help,” he added.
That’s when the council members learned about Catholic Charities’ Loaves and Fishes and food pantry programs. The council reached out to offer help.
The council distributed the grocery bags the weekend of March 13-14, and parishioners returned more than 400 bags of food the following weekend.
“It was beautiful,” said Wendy Overlock, coordinator of the Loaves and Fishes program.
She had asked for food items in cans with pull tabs, which are easier to use by people experiencing homelessness. The items included: hearty soups, canned chicken and tuna, Vienna sausages, spam, sardines, chicken and dumplings, chili, fruit, pork and beans, crackers, peanut butter and fruit packs, among others.
The number of families struggling to make ends meet is increasing, Overlock said, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and disasters like the March 2020 tornados and the downtown Christmas day bombing.
Loaves and Fishes provides lunch to those in need every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at Holy Name Church in East Nashville. Each week, approximately 600 meals are served, and guests can also receive referrals for services for housing, additional food, and clothing.
Catholic Charities also operates three food pantries in Davidson County, serving the homeless, the working poor, retired seniors and those struggling to feed babies and small children. The pantries are located at the McGruder Family Resource Center in North Nashville, the South Nashville Family Resource Center located at Casa Azafran, and the Catholic Pastoral Center in Donelson.
Besides food, the family resource centers provide financial assistance, financial literacy classes and case management referrals for those in need.
“Hopefully, this is going to be a longstanding partnership” between Council 4563 and Catholic Charities, Owens said. “We’re going to do it at least annually for Loaves and Fishes and The Journey Home Murfreesboro homeless shelter. We’ll do it for our parish food pantry on a more regular basis.”
“What we like is not only helping others but being a conduit for our parishioners to help others,” Owens said.