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Catholic Charities gears up for food drive to help families in need ahead of the holidays


FILE-People line up at Catholic Charities in{ } D.C. to get free food in November 2020.{ } (Image: 7News)
FILE-People line up at Catholic Charities in D.C. to get free food in November 2020. (Image: 7News)
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With food costs on the rise, more than 40 parishes, schools, and Catholic civic groups across the region are working to gather food for the hungry this fall.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington is in the midst of its "Fall Harvest Food Drive," a massive food donation drive aimed at securing more than 100,000 pounds of food by the end of the month. The undertaking, which began in October and continues through November, is in anticipation of a busy holiday season and winter, particularly with food prices on the rise. More than 40 parishes, schools, and Catholic civic groups have either participated in or are scheduled to host a food drive.

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"Our need for food donations is slightly above where it was last year during the height of the pandemic. This is particularly concerning given the continued rise in the cost of food, which is hitting those in need very hard," said Cathy Hassinger, Director of Community Services, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington.

"We are asking people to consider donating food now so we are prepared for the influx of families coming to the food pantries we supply in the coming weeks, especially as we head into the holidays and colder months."

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Many of the food collection sites offer drive-by drop-offs of food. Items in need include non-perishables such as canned fruits and vegetables, boxed or bagged cereal, rice and pasta, pasta sauce, cooking oil, bread, non-refrigerated juice, peanut butter, and canned chicken or fish, such as tuna or salmon.

Additionally, the St. Lucy Food Project, the arm of Catholic Charities which collects and distributes the food, is asking for individually sized canned meats, mac & cheese, shelf-stable milk, and Chef Boyardee for its "Students on the Move" program, which provides take-home packages to school kids who otherwise would go hungry.

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Beginning in the spring of 2020, Catholic Charities' pantries and parish and partner pantries experienced a dramatic increase in the amount of food needed because of the rising economic toll of the coronavirus on families. Staff and volunteers continue to practice social distancing and wear masks at all sites.

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Donations can also be made to the St. Lucy Food Project warehouse, 8426-28 Kao Circle in Manassas, at a "no contact" secure bin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To donate online, click here.

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