WILMINGTON — Citing the sharply rising cost of feeding New Castle County’s growing number of homeless and poor, including the newly unemployed, the Ministry of Caring on Tuesday made an urgent plea for donations.
“We need to let the community know that all our efforts are in feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless,” said Brother Ronald Giannone, OFM Cap., the founder and executive director of the Ministry of Caring. “A daunting mission, while facing the coronavirus, and how dangerously is spreads.”
At its Emmanuel Dining Rooms, ministry staff are providing pre-packaged meals to the hungry instead of greeting and seating them, an organization spokesman said. People are lining up an hour or more in advance, with signs reminding them to maintain six feet from each other in order to help prevent the virus’ spread.
This is the first time in the 42-year history of the Emmanuel Dining Room that sit-down dining has been suspended, but the Ministry of Caring is continuing with its mission by serving hundreds of takeout meals. There are no requirements or questions asked of those who line up for the food. All other ministry programs, with the exception of housing the homeless, have been suspended.
“Our staff at EDR and housing programs are heroes. Even at their own risk, they serve the hungry and homeless with love and dedication. They are fearless as they come to work every day, knowing fully the risks involved,” Brother Ronald said.
The costs facing the Ministry of Caring have skyrocketed since it began distributing meals at its three sites. According to the ministry, they have more than doubled. Brother Ronald said its benefactors have stepped up, but others are needed.
“It is an expensive operation to provide emergency care such as takeaway food and sheltering men, women and children non-stop and in a confined area,” he said.
Financial help is the most pressing need. Donations can be made at www.ministryofcaring.org or sent to the Ministry of Caring, 115 E. 14th St., Wilmington, DE 19801-3209.
Food donations are being accepted from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily at Emmanuel Dining Room West, 121 N. Jackson St., Wilmington. The most-needed items are commercial-size cans of meats and vegetables, and large quantities of bagged lunches that include sandwiches with condiment packets, fruit and single-serve packages of chips or snacks.
Area restaurants, grocery stores and restaurant supply distributors who wish to help should contact Priscilla Rakestraw, the Ministry of Caring’s development director, at (302) 652-5523, or ReeNee LaFate, director of the Emmanuel Dining Room program, at (302) 652-3228.