As more and more people are at risk of acute hunger because of the global coronavirus pandemic, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA partnered with The SALT Foundation on a charitable campaign to raise awareness, advocate and provide food for those in need.
“There’s an urgency right now,” Claudia Lewis, the SALT Foundation president, said in her talks with the leadership of the Metropolia Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA in South Bound Brook, NJ. She said that people cannot afford nutritious food because they have been out of work since the start of the sweeping pandemic, while others are unable to purchase food for their families.
On a sunny June 10, 2020 Wednesday morning, volunteers joined their voices in prayer, led by His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, asking the Grace of the Holy Spirit to flow through their hands as they offer themselves in the service of Christ the Savior by preparing packages of fresh food items in order to distribute them for those in need in times of COVID-19 pandemic.
The charitable effort provided 1200 individuals with organic produce, canned goods, eggs and cheeses, meat and fish products.
Archbishop Daniel speaking to the volunteers of the project of Food Distribution for the past several months at the Ukrainian Cultural Center of the Metropolia of the Church, stated: “Metropolitan Antony has called all of us to respond with his archpastoral blessing… I think that we basically have two choices: turn inward or reach outward and be open outward. The Church is on the front line right now. As you know, our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA never closed her doors to the ministry in the Name of the Savior. It didn’t stop assisting here at home - in the U.S., it didn’t stop pastoral outreach across the country.”
Vladyka Daniel stated that the charitable efforts of the Consistory Offices of Ministry of the UOC of the USA serve as “an important experience of our church’s steadfast commitment to global solidarity, commitment to the common good and upholding human dignity, especially in the difficult times of our nation’s history.”
“This charitable outreach project for the past several months is animated by the call to see Christ in the needs of our brothers and sisters,” he added. “Our Lord’s call is a call to work to alleviate suffering, to create a more just world for the world’s poorest, most marginalized and most vulnerable people. This campaign is one of the expressions of our outward response to Christ’s call.”
Mrs. Claudia Lewis, speaking on behalf of the SALT Foundation also said that we have a responsibility to the people of our communities as Americans are facing food shortages.
Not responding to people in need could create greater problems, she said, and lead to widespread outbreaks of diseases, creating greater health concerns for the community.
“We need to ensure all people are protected,” Mrs. Lewis said.
Vladyka Daniel added that the charitable efforts of the Church answer the call of the Lord and offer Ukrainian Orthodox Christians in particular, and the greater Christian community in general, an opportunity to understand their relationship to God’s creation as human dignity is suffering because of hunger, poverty, natural disasters and damage to the environment.
"The current situation can renew us in living out what I would call the virtue of neighborliness... At a time when people are feeling panic and are moving into a survival mode, thinking only of themselves first, it is critical that we as people of FAITH lead by example in thinking of others first. While observing the usual rules for safe hygiene, the current situation gives us added motivation to pay attention to those in need, helping one’s neighbors who are elderly or especially vulnerable and cannot, for example, venture out to obtain groceries for themselves, or who have any kind of special need."
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA offers her support to the ministry of the Salt Foundation in fulfilling the mission to develop the following program to help feed the hungry in central New Jersey. Each week, we CCD:
+ Coordinate with supermarkets and other food suppliers to arrange pickup times and locations
+ Collect food that would otherwise go to waste
+ Deliver that food in a timely basis to homeless and women’s shelters, churches, food pantries, food drives, and other groups and individuals who need help the most.
In addition, the SALT Foundation collects and delivers books, clothes, supplies, and other educational goods and services to the children and adults in need.
For more information, visit THE SALT FOUNDATION: http://www.thesaltfoundationinc.org/
Photos by Subdeacon Yaroslav Bilohan