St. Thomas Aquinas Parish's monthly food drive helps ensure no one goes to bed hungry
Friday, Apr. 29, 2022
IC file photo
Food bank donations are shown in the St. Thomas Aquinas parish hall in this file photo.
LOGAN — St. Thomas Aquinas Parish’s monthly food drive for the Cache Community Food Pantry has been supporting the community in the valley for several years.
The Cache Community Food Pantry is an emergency food assistance program that works to ensure that no one in the Cache Valley goes to bed hungry.
“Stepping up as Catholics to lend a hand to those in need has been a blessing,” said Noelle Call, who with Cindi Hill leads the parish’s food drive efforts.
The idea for the monthly food drive came about when the parish’s social justice ministry realized the importance of feeding the hungry.
Members of the group were “thinking how can we serve people in our community, not just at St. Thomas, because we want to be part of the whole community bringing social justice to all,” Call said.
They asked the director of the Cache Community Food Bank what was most needed, then created a list of what they could realistically provide, Call said.
“We could not collect meat or perishable food, so we divided it into a year and went again to the food pantry and asked which month of the year were those items needed the most,” she said.
Using that list, they then created a calendar that shows, for example, that in August they will collect peanut butter and school supplies, one of the two times a year the monthly food drive at St. Thomas asks for backpacks and other items for students.
“We try to support whatever the food pantry tells us they need,” Call said. “It’s really important that we take care of everybody.”
Besides, “the community knows we are helping the community as a whole, that we are part of the community, we are not an isolated religious group. We are really part of the community,” she said.
The parish’s food drive received a huge response from the parishioners, but when the pandemic hit, things had to be rearranged a bit, Call said.
“During Covid our church was a center for huge donations from all over the valley, with the food pantry too, but we helped a huge number of people that lost their jobs and were sick at the meat factory,” she said.
With donations from all over the valley, the parish community created hundreds and hundreds of boxes every week, she said.
Now, as conditions have improved, Call is inviting parishioners to get rolling again with the monthly food drive. This month the parish is collecting donations of cold and hot cereals.
“Being able to receive these donations is wonderful,” said Matt Whitaker, director of the Cache Community Food Bank. “The other great thing about it is that I get to go to [St. Thomas] and talk two or three times per year and speak to the congregation and tell them ‘thank you,’ and share with them what it means to the families that come here to get food from us.”
St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners “are a wonderful group of people. Some of them even come here and volunteer on a regular basis,” he said.
Being able to explain where the donations go and the impact the food drive has on families “has been really a good relationship,” he added.
Volunteers at the food bank come from all walks of life, Whitaker said. “I get to see different religions, different political beliefs, races, ethnicities – all the differences get left at the door. Everybody gets here to serve, and we get to make a difference in somebody’s life that is struggling.”