Those who come to the Father Jack Jones Pantry — which has seen a dramatic increase in need — often leave not only with bags of groceries but with the sense they’ve been welcomed into a caring community, said Deacon Andy Heinsohn.
Deacon Heinsohn, who serves as a food pantry coordinator at Catholic Charities, said he’s seen a steady increase in the number of individuals seeking food over the past two months. The small Dare to Care pantry is located in the basement of the old rectory of Holy Name Church on South Third Street and serves the surrounding neighborhood.
In late June, Deacon Heinsohn said the pantry had been serving up to 70 individuals in one day — a new record. That number is typically closer to 25 per day. The pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays.
In the short time the pantry has been around — Catholic Charities opened the pantry in May 2021 — he said he’s noticed that “guests” who come for food seem to be leaving with more. They’ve been reaching out to offer friendship and help to one another.
“Just being here next to each other, they are learning how to help each other,” said Deacon Heinsohn. “They’re not afraid of each other. It’s beautiful.”
He’s slowly seen a community form around the act of coming to the pantry for food, he noted. Deacon Heinsohn said he keeps a journal, where he documents the stories he witnesses at the pantry. One story that stands out, he said, is of an injured man who’d been coming to the pantry. He had a large open wound on one of his arms and a woman who stood close to him in line for food noticed. After expressing her concern that the wound would become infected, Deacon Heinsohn said, she invited him to her house to pick up some ointment to treat it.
“It’s been an amazing year. It really builds your faith,” he said. “We’re on the frontlines. When they come here, they are family. People come to talk and tell their story.”
The pantry is staffed by volunteers from Holy Trinity and Holy Name churches, said Deacon Heinsohn. To supplement the food from Dare to Care, the pantry receives donations from the community and from food drives typically held by middle school students at Holy Trinity School, he said.
“God provides. Sometimes the pantry is empty and someone will call and ask, ‘Do you need some meat?’ ” said Deacon Heinsohn.
Currently, the pantry is in need of canned meat and frozen meat, preferably in one-, two- or five-pound portions and toiletry items such as soap, disposable razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes he said. For information on how to donate food or make a financial donation, contact Deacon Heinsohn at email@example.com.