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Sacred Heart Parish in Anza was one of 12 in the diocese to recently receive a $3,000 grant from the diocese to help support its food distribution programs. Food price inflation has been a challenge for many parish food pantries.

Inland Southern California has seen food prices rise by 14 percent in the past year – tops in California – but parish food pantries continue to use grants, donations and networking in their ministries to feed the hungry.

A key boost came in December when 12 parishes in the Diocese received a $3,000 grant to help purchase food for their pantry. The grant money came from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. He had presented Bishop Alberto Rojas with funding to use for projects of the bishop’s choosing. With food prices spiking and funds declining for some parish food pantries, Bishop Rojas decided to allocate a portion of the monies to the dozen pantries.

“That grant is going to keep us afloat for a while,” said Ester Barragan, Business Manager of Sacred Heart Parish in Anza. “It’s going to help us provide Christmas dinners and to continue to buy food [for our pantry] through March or April.”

Sacred Heart and many other parishes in the Diocese purchase food for their pantries at a lower cost from food banks like Feeding America. Food banks have continued to play an important role for parishes and organizations like Catholic Charities San Bernardino-Riverside that feed the poor.

Said Cruz Solis, who coordinates the Food Ministry at Christ the Good Shepherd Parish in Adelanto, “this money will help us in purchasing food from Feeding America to continue in keeping our shelves stocked.”

The other ten parishes that received a food pantry grant from the Diocese were St. Bernardine, San Bernardino; St. John the XXIII, Fontana-Rialto; Our Lady of Hope, San Bernardino; Holy Family, Hesperia; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Crestline; St. Ann, Needles; St. Francis de Sales, Riverside; St. Anthony, San Jacinto; St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Desert Hot Springs; and St. Christopher, Moreno Valley.

Parishes like Christ the Good Shepherd and St. Martha, Murrieta participate in community-wide programs that feed the hungry, and this kind of collective effort amongst churches and community groups has helped to weather the storm of food price inflation this year. St. Martha contributes to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Distribution program and there remains strong financial support from parishioners both financially and in volunteering, says Deacon Pat Necerato, Pastoral Associate.

Our Lady of Soledad Parish teams with Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul and a local group, Alianza Campesina, that makes monthly deliveries of pallets of food for local farmworkers and others in need of food, said Father Francisco Gomez, S.T., Pastor.

While the parishes of the Diocese are determined to continue to answer the Lord’s call in Matthew’s Gospel (25) to feed the hungry, the number of those who are “food insecure” is growing daily.

St. Martha reported four new families seeking food assistance during one week of November, said Dcn. Necerato, and many are arriving from other countries with little or no income, he added.