Helping those in need, in any way possible

“we try to see the face of Jesus in every person we meet”

Jonathan Krall, 14, helps out at the food pantry with his grandmother every Tuesday.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society helps those in need in any way it can. It runs a food pantry and thrift store feeding and clothing the poor.

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The food pantry is partnered with Shop Rite, Panera Bread and Wawa. Every week, volunteers from the food pantry go to these businesses to pick up donations. The local community also brings donations to the food pantry. Whatever is not donated to it, it buys through the South Jersey Food Bank.

“We give emergency food to whoever needs it … we developed resources where we look up food pantries in other areas and give people from these areas that come those resources … we had to make a hard decision about how we would do this, and we decided to serve those in our parish,” said Cathy Rainey, the president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The St. Vincent de Paul food pantry serves Berlin Borough, Berlin Township, Pine Hill, Clementon and Albion.

Every month, it serves about 240 families. Most of the people in need are eligible for government programs such as food stamps. Because of this, the food pantry gives out supplemental food. There are eligibility requirements to receive the food since it is part of the food bank. Everything that is distributed is recorded for accountability purposes.

Once a month, the food truck is taken to St. Simon Stock Catholic Church.

“Before mass, parishioners donate food, which is why we can give food to anyone who needs it,” Rainey said.

The food bank has a plethora of requirements it has to meet. Temperatures of the food have to be recorded, along with whom the food is given to.

“We do what we have to, but most of our energy is spent on helping people,” Rainey said.

Every Tuesday, the food pantry gets about five tons of food delivered from the food bank. Then the volunteers go through everything, sort it and bag it. The volunteers range in age.

“The only thing that limits us is gathering volunteers … we have very devoted volunteers,” Rainey said. “People are devoted to helping others … we try to see the face of Jesus in every person we meet.

“We are respectful and kind, and we try to help in any way we can. All that we get, we distribute to the poor.”
The food pantry is the main mission of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, but it has a thrift store. The purpose of the thrift store is to clothe the poor. Donations are always welcome at the thrift store.

“We sort it, hang it, price it, display it and sell it,” Rainey said. All the money received from the thrift store goes to housing the food pantry.

At the end of the year, it has to add up how many people were fed and clothed through their society. It also has to add up how many volunteers were needed and for how long.

The food pantry is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is located at 157 W. White Horse Pike in Berlin. The amount of food given to those in need depends on the size of the family and if they are eligible for any government programs.

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