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Novel coronavirus shuts Emmanuel Dining Room, but Ministry of Caring still needs help fighting poverty with takeout

Bishop Malooly
Bishop Malooly interacts with a young client Aug. 28, 2018, at the Child Care Center run by the Ministry of Caring in Wilmington. Dialog photo/Joseph P. Owens

For the first time in more than 40 years of serving the hungry in Delaware, the Ministry of Caring has closed the Emmanuel Dining Room because of the threat of the novel coronavirus. The three dining rooms will continue to provide takeout meals, but the ministry says it is in need of donations.

“Each of the dining room’s three sites was serving about 250 people every day, so we had to close under Delaware’s state of emergency ban on crowds,” said Brother Ronald Giannone, OFM Cap., founder and executive director of the Ministry of Caring. “We have started giving takeout meals and will for the forseeable future, but we need donations to keep providing meals and, unfortunately, we expect the need to grow.”

Brother Ronald also announced the precautionary closures of the Ministry of Caring Job Placement Center, Pierre Toussaint Dental Office, three child care sites, along with the suspension of monthly international night fundraising dinners and other benefits.

The MOC also has deepened health-related screening for all potential clients of its residential facilities and increased health and sanitation procedures at all of its sites. Visitors are now banned at the Mother Teresa House and House of Joseph II, which houses adults living with HIV/AIDS. All told, the Ministry of Caring has 19 programs and 52 buildings.

Crowd limits and social distancing have combined to deliver a one-two punch to the ministry, according to Cindy Gamble, director of planned giving and donor relations.

“Nearly 100 faith groups, clubs and other organizations volunteer with the ministry, buying and providing meals on a rotating basis. But many churches and groups aren’t meeting, so they’re also canceling volunteer work, and we need to make up the difference,” she said.

Tax-deductible monetary donations are most needed. They can be sent to the Ministry of Caring, 115 E. 14th St., Wilmington, DE 19801-3209. Food donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily at Emmanuel Dining Room, 121 N. Jackson St., Wilmington, which is also where Amazon will deliver donations bought online.

The ministry needs commercial-sized cans of tuna, chicken, vegetables and fruit; cases of single-serve chips, applesauce, fruit cocktail and snacks; cases of hot dogs, rolls and bread; and tubs of lunch meat and ketchup and mustard packets.

“As an at-home project, parents and kids can make big batches of sandwiches for us,” Gamble said. “The kids can wrap and label the sandwiches, and the parents can drop them off at the dining room.”

For more ways to help the Emmanuel Dining Room feed the poor, go to www.ministryofcaring.org.