One of the harshest impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is a massive increase in hunger and food insecurity with a record 40 million Americans losing their jobs just since mid-March.
Nick Scholz, a former OPCMIA Office Manager who is now retired, is doing something about this. A Deacon at the Shrine of St. Jude Catholic Church in Rockville, Md., he and his fellow parishioners opened St. Stephen’s Food Pantry to meet the needs of people in his parish and the surrounding community. The Pantry is volunteer-run and depends on donations from parishioners to provide bags full of groceries for the more than 300 families receiving needed sustenance each week.
The pantry had a particular need for the bags themselves, and when Scholz asked OPCMIA for assistance, General President Daniel E. Stepano immediately responded, authorizing a donation of 10,000 bags, enough for more than eight months of food distribution.
“When the parish started this project, one of the first needs was, how do we hand out the food, especially during the COVID outbreak,” Scholz said in the video accompanying this post. “You can’t have people bringing their own bags, so we put out a panic call for anybody that had paper bags to bring them by. So I sat down and sent [General President Stepano] an email and asked him if he’d be willing to donate 1,000 paper bags to help us out in our ministry. After explaining to Dan about the process here and how many people we are serving, he said, ‘Well, we’d like to do more. I’d like to donate 10,000 bags,’ which was absolutely marvelous because we can use them. … I really appreciate Dan’s doing that, the OPCMIA and the members for helping us out here in our St. Stephen’s Ministry of St. Jude.”
“I keep thinking of the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes,” said the Pastor of St. Judes, Father Paul D. Lee. “That’s what is happening here. It’s truly amazing.”
“Our union has always been about serving not only our members but our communities,” General President Stepano said. “Nick epitomizes this ethos of service and when he made us aware of his wonderful work to assist those struggling with hunger, we didn’t hesitate to lend a hand. This is only a small donation, but when all of us pitch in together, we can get through hard times, strengthen the bonds between us, and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever.”
OPCMIA members who wish to donate items to the pantry should send them to:
Larry Kilmer, St. Stephen’s Pantry
Shrine of St. Jude
12701 Veirs Mill Road, Rockville, MD 20853
Phone: (301) 946-8200