Caritas Food Pantry, for the love of humankind.

November 8, 2014
Volunteers help with food distribution.

Volunteers help with food distribution.

Father Dan DePew, left, talks to volunteer Bill Rosenow.

Father Dan DePew, left, talks to volunteer Bill Rosenow.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

CUSTER — For the past 9 years, the joined parishes of St. Mary’s and St. Jerome’s Catholic churches have been operating a food pantry out of the now-closed St. Jerome’s Church in Scottville, more specifically out of the church’s rectory. However, the old facility had proven to be inefficient and non-handicap accessible.

When Mason County Eastern Schools moved its early childhood development out of the St. Mary’s School complex this year, it opened the opportunity for the parish to open a fellowship center and also to utilize one of the former classrooms for the food pantry.

Two weeks ago Caritas Food Pantry, opened on Madison Street just south of U.S. 10; caritas is a Latin noun that means Christian love of humankind; charity.

The opening of the pantry comes after months of preparation and lots of donated materials and labor. The old carpet in the classroom was removed and a new tile floor was donated by Easy Living Flooring of Ludington; building materials were donated by Home Depot of Amber Township; the appliances were moved from Scottville to Custer by Larson Moving and Storage of Pere Marquette Township and printing materials were donated by Kwik Print Plus of Ludington. Volunteers from the church also helped move equipment and clean up the facility.

“We are very grateful for the hard work of our volunteers and also to the businesses that donated to the pantry,” said Kelly Glover of Amber Township, the facility’s manager.

caritas_food_pantry_1Caritas Food Pantry provides free food to anyone. It is open Monday and Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. Each family receives about 38 pounds of food with a retail value of about $70. Food includes dry goods along with meat and eggs.

“While we serve a lot of Mason County families, we also have a lot of people come from Oceana County,” said volunteer Bill Rosenow. “We even get people from Newaygo County.”

Since the beginning of the year, the pantry has served 1,327 families and 4,116 people. It is staffed by about 25 volunteers. Some of those volunteers help on distribution days and others help with unloading the delivery truck, which comes every two weeks.

Father Dan DePew, parish priest, blessed the new facility a couple of weeks ago.

“We believe this facility is part of the command of Christ (from Luke 10:27), ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself,’” DePew said.

“We are to feed the hungry, which is just as important as the sacraments and educating our children.”

DePew said the pantry is more than just a church project. While once a month the parish collects a Sunday offering, it relies on donations from the community.

Anyone wishing to donate may send their contribution to Caritas Food Pantry, St. Mary’s Church, 85 S. Madison St., Custer, MI 49405.