New Catholic Community Services campaign to feed homeless people also supports local businesses

Friday, Jun. 12, 2020
New Catholic Community Services campaign to feed homeless people also supports local businesses + Enlarge
Catholic Community Services and local restaurants are working together to feed the homeless population.
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Catholic Community Services of Utah has found a unique way to feed the homeless while supporting Salt Lake area restaurants. They’ve launched a fundraiser that allows individuals to donate to a GoFundMe campaign that uses the monies to purchase meals in bulk from the restaurants to feed the patrons at the St. Vincent Dining Hall in Salt Lake City and the three local homeless resource centers.
Since the restrictions imposed under COVID-19, CCS has been providing sack meals to all clients. Much of the time that’s sandwiches, although the kitchen staff tries to provide alternatives whenever possible.
“They’re chomping at the bit to be able to create more hot meals, but they still need to go in a sack,” said Cynthia Mecklenburg, CCS’s communications director.
The meals from the restaurants provide a welcome change for their clients, she said, and also support local businesses that “have staff they’re trying to keep employed as well.”
CCS officials hope the community’s support will allow them to provide many more restaurant meals to patrons at the dining hall and the homeless resource centers. Purchasing just one meal to feed those experiencing hunger provides a local business with the opportunity to sell four meals.
The campaign, which launched at the end of March, has had a slow start, mostly because CCS has been hampered in getting word out during the pandemic, Mecklenburg said. 
Until the donation campaign picks up steam, CCS is relying heavily on the local restaurants and some of the participating businesses, which donate food or provide discounts to CCS.
Participating restaurants and businesses are Chick-fil-A, Little Caesar’s, Sizzler, Red Robin, Salsa Leedos, Bam Bam BBQ, Texas Roadhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, Wing Stop, Laziz, Hectors, Park Café, Raclette Machine, Fillings and Emulsions, Ivory Corporation, Café India SLC, Taqueria Los Lee, Wingers, SAPA, Costco – Murray, Wicked Peel and Pretty Bird Kitchen.  
“We are very grateful for the partnerships that we have in the community with the food service industry,” Mecklenburg said. “They have supported us with donations in the past and continue to work with us to provide food to our homeless community. They are just terrific partners for us and they are always reaching out to us whenever they have surplus food or opportunities to prepare food or deliver food to us. We couldn’t do it without our community partners.”
In addition to those contributions and monetary donations, CCS needs to-go boxes and prepackaged snack-food items that can be put in the sack meals.
While the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall and the homeless resource centers currently are closed to volunteers, staff members still work every day to feed the hungry. In April, St. Vinny’s served a total of 8,395 meals, with 41,470 meals served at the resource centers.
“Our staff has done such an incredible job over the past three months,” Mecklenburg said. “They are so dedicated and committed to providing great, nutritious food to our homeless community. They know they can continue to count on St. Vincent de Paul for their food.”
CCS is meeting the need despite the many challenges but could use additional support from the community, she said.
To make a monetary contribution, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/feed-our-homeless-families-and-friends. To-go boxes and snack items may be dropped off during business hours at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall, 437 West 200 South, Salt Lake City.

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