By Jessica Easthope
The mission is simple – feed the hungry, but the approach has become increasingly complex.
Supply chain issues are causing food prices to soar and not just for the people waiting in line at St. John’s Bread & Life. With a week left before their big Thanksgiving meal, Wednesday, the vendor they receive all their turkeys from said they can’t fulfill the order.
“It was a last-minute scramble and it was expensive, but we really believe no one should go without,” said executive director, Sister Caroline Tweedy, R.S.M.
They made due, because during the pandemic, Sister Caroline transformed the entire operation. She says keeping up with this level of food insecurity and doing more with less is the new normal.
“We can’t even remember the past at this point,” she said. “We flipped the script so quickly to meet the need in the community that that seems like hundreds of years ago.”
One grab-and-go bag of food used to cost a little over a dollar, now they cost $1.60, while meat and dairy costs went up 10 percent. Bread & Life fed 6,000 people this week alone and Sister Caroline says she’s not willing to compromise on food quality.
“Keeping people fed with good nutritional food, you’re less likely to have people going to the emergency room, people getting sick. It’s all intertwined,” sister said.
The staff and volunteers who make this machine run aren’t giving up. Many of the people bagging the food have been on the opposite side of the hand-out window.
“They know what the struggle is for folks, so they won’t allow anyone to go hungry, not on their turf anyway,” Sister Caroline said.
At the same time, Bread & Life struggles too – but they willingly take that risk because there’s no other option, the hungry need to be fed.