By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — As the McAnthony Window Food and Clothing Pantry continues to grow, three grants will help feed those in need.
Through its partnership with River Bend Food Bank, St. Anthony Parish learned about various grant opportunities, said Pastoral Associate John Cooper. One grant, for $16,737.44, reimburses expenses for food already purchased by the parish as it demonstrates its intention to increase outreach to people who are food insecure.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were operating a very limited pantry based on what we had on hand to give to our McAnthony Window patrons. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we saw the increased need and opened our parish center to operate the food pantry during normal hours for McAnthony Window (M-F 9-11 a.m.).”
Volunteers inside the parish center placed food and toiletries in front of the center’s windows and people in need pointed out what they wanted. The volunteers bagged the items, which were delivered to people at the McAnthony Window, Cooper said.
When public celebration of the Mass resumed last June and the parish hall served as overflow, the pantry operation moved to the maintenance building. People could choose items they viewed on the other side of a Plexiglas window. “We installed a ‘baby monitor’ so that we could hear patrons with their requests.”
The pantry, like McAnthony Window, is open to anyone. “The only question we ask is how many are in your household as that is a River Bend requirement.” Cooper noted that all “reimbursement of funds go right back to operating McAnthony Window.”
A second grant for $11,627.41 went toward purchase of additional shelving and refrigeration units at the pantry. The parish inherited a refrigeration unit from the former St. Mary Parish in Davenport when it merged with St. Anthony Parish, but “we needed much more refrigeration space for dairy and meat.” With the new unit, more refrigerated foods can be distributed. New shelves are in use and the refrigeration unit has been ordered. The pantry was rearranged last week to make room for the unit.
A third grant, called a Racial Equity Grant, will help get more food into the hands of people of color, Cooper said. “We plan to operate by wheeling out a mobile pantry after the noon Spanish Mass for half an hour. Any of our parishioners who are facing food insecurity are encouraged to use it. The grant also gave us funding to purchase ethnic foods like maseca for this mobile pantry.”
The mobile pantry, expected to begin operation next month, will not carry all of the items available in the weekday pantry, and it is targeted toward parishioners. “It would have been less work to sit back and do what we have been doing, which is a lot,” Cooper said. “However, the call from Jesus is to always look for ways to do more. We are reminded of this every day when we see the face of Jesus in our parishioners and patrons.”