In Oak Bluffs, the Good Shepherd Parish carries the message of the gospel “to feed my people” to heart. Parish center in St. School 55 normally organizes free food distribution twice a month, every first Tuesday and third Saturday. With coronaviruses affecting Islanders’ income, the committee now offers distribution every Saturday, at least until April 25, from 11:30 to 12:30.
The Food Baskets-MV program in the parish has evolved into a weekly prize and added a new way to get products and protein to people during the pandemic: improvement services. The program director, Joe Capobianco, explained how they managed to get the food that the islanders really need now.
People just drive to the parish center on School Street, stay in their cars, guard their windows, and open their suitcases, he said. A number of Capobianco family members, all wearing gloves and masks, helped him package groceries and place them in the trunk of the car. Capobianco said the parish will continue to offer services as long as the pastor, Father Michael Nagle, said they could.
“I would say that this is one of the most special privileges we have as a church, to help each other,” Father Nagle said. “Joe arranged it very well, very helpful with the least danger to all involved.”
Good Shepherd gave the food without question, added Capobianco. “What we need to know is how many people in your family … some people are shy about filling out documents,” he said. That’s why Food Baskets-MV keeps the bureaucracy to a minimum.
The need that was proven last Saturday, April 4, was extraordinary, according to the committee. “It was very nice to see the results,” said Food Baskets-MV program director Janay Dlabaj.
The number of Capobianco is much higher last weekend. They put 8,000 pounds of fresh produce, milk, eggs and frozen fish, chicken sausage, turkey sausage, strawberries, blueberries, and others into the waiting vehicle. That equals 489 bags to 204 cars, some lined up along the lane that reaches New York Avenue.
““I have rented a bigger truck, and I took food in Boston for the Food Pantry on Wednesday and Friday for the MV-Food Basket,” Capobianco said. “We have 70 or 80 people who came before coronavirus; Last Saturday we had 640 people. “His smaller truck holds about 4,000 pounds of food, the bigger truck allows him to carry 10,000 pounds to the island.
Many people suffering from food insecurity are now expected to rise again after the pandemic, Capobianco said.
Prior to coronavirus, parish food distribution included providing weekend food backpacks for students at Oak Bluffs School, MVRHS, and Boys and Girls Club. These days, Kim D’Arcy from M.V. The Community Service Family Center and Cindy Flanders, Head Start program coordinator, come to the parish center to pick up food that does not rot easily every Tuesday morning. Once a month Good Shepherd provides food for the Wampanoag Women’s Center in Aquinnah, a program run by Jennifer Randolf.
For now, Capobianco said Food Baskets-MV will follow the weekly schedule, and they will review the situation at the end of April.
“We will re-evaluate it for May, and if we have to continue to do it, we will do it,” he said.
For more information about outreach services at Good Shepherd Parish, visit goodshepherdmv.com.
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