By Jessica Easthope
One year into the pandemic, food insecurity is still at an all-time-high in Brooklyn. According to North Brooklyn Angels, 20 percent of the borough is food insecure, a need that won’t disappear with the COVID vaccine.
“A lot of these people have a personal connection with us, so if they weren’t comfortable going out to one of these other outlets they would feel more comfortable receiving items from people they genuinely know,” said Colleen Chasteau, an organizer and member of St. Matthew Group of Hope.
With money raised on GoFundMe, the volunteers partnered with Key Food to purchase and distribute a week’s worth of groceries and essentials to more than 70 people. Colleen says it’s part of their Lenten promise.
“To give for the greater good is how we’re tying Lent into this, We’re all Catholics here, and it’s really important to our faith for us to give to those less fortunate than us,” she said.
Instead of giving something up, Father Frank Black , the pastor of St. Matthew’s, says the volunteers are giving more of themselves.
“Our Lenten sacrifice is to empty ourselves so we can fill ourselves with god’s love, but there’s also another way to do it by putting our love into practice,” said Fr. Frank.
St. Matthew Group of Hope’s operation is a community effort. They gathered the names of parishioners who they know need help, and were given more names by NYPD officers from the 77th precinct.
“The neighborhood police have been trying to do the same thing, because it’s all about what we’re supposed to be doing: working together as God’s people to make the world a better place,” Fr. Frank explained.
Grateful to have help during a difficult time, Rachel Green asked her neighbor Millie to come with her to get her groceries. She had plans to put the Pillars of Lent into practice in her own way.
“She’s a very close friend of mine and I plan to share the food with her,” Rachel said.
Volunteers say you can see just how thankful recipients are, and even after a year of struggle they’re still looking out for one another.
“To see folks come out not only for the food but to recommend other people and give names of other folks that are struggling and even give us names of people who want to help us distribute,” is something Kevin Adamar, another member of Group of Hope, has experienced.
Group of Hope was able to provide the groceries with just $2,500. They plan to hold another giveaway as soon as they raise enough.
If you’d like to contribute to Group of Hope’s efforts, head to gofundme.com/f/group-of-