While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our community, one of the realities that hasn’t changed is the fact that many people don’t have the resources to feed themselves or their families.

Fortunately the Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton remains able to alleviate this need. Since 1978, the Kitchen has been serving a free, hot, nutritious meal to approximately 250 men, women and children each day. In addition to the traditional daily midday meal, the Kitchen has also provided an evening meal on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5‑6 p.m.

In recent years the Mid-Valley Outreach Program was launched in conjunction with several parishes to offer weekly meals in Carbondale, Archbald and Olyphant. The Kitchen also operates the Saint Francis Client-Choice Food Pantry and the Saint Francis Free Clothing Store.

Volunteers prepare the meals in take-out containers.

The Kitchen has been able to do all of this via the dedicated service of staff and volunteers, and with financial support from the community – primarily through the annual Host‑for‑a‑Day campaign. The 2021 campaign is now underway.

The Host‑for‑a‑Day campaign seeks contributions of $100 or more. This helps the Kitchen provide the daily meal.

In effect, each contributor becomes a “host” for a day. Contributors may then select a date on which they, or someone they designate, will be recognized as the provider for that meal.

During the pandemic, the Kitchen has modified its program by providing the daily midday meal in Scranton in take-out containers. The evening meals were suspended for a time but resumed at the end of July, also as take-outs. The Mid-Valley Outreach Program also had to be suspended, but meals in Carbondale resumed in December. The food pantry and clothing store are open, with safety precautions in place.

Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen has launched its 2021 Host‑for‑a‑Day campaign, which is the primary means of financial support for the Kitchen’s mission to provide a free daily meal to area needy. Pictured are Kitchen Advisory Board member Michele Bannon, campaign chair; and Kitchen Executive Director Rob Williams.

“Naturally this has been a challenging time and we have made changes to ensure the safety of our guests, staff and volunteers,” said Rob Williams, the Kitchen’s executive director. “Throughout this period, however, we have provided a meal in some fashion every single day. We are truly blessed!”

Michele Bannon, a member of the Kitchen’s Advisory Board, is chairing the campaign and leading the effort with her fellow board members.

“The community has always supported this campaign in a wonderful way,” she said. “This year the need is greater than ever, and we are hopeful that our supporters will again join with us to sustain the mission of the Kitchen.”

This year’s Host‑for‑a‑Day campaign is being conducted with safety precautions in place. Traditionally the members of the Kitchen’s Advisory Board contact supporters they have sold tickets to over the years. This year the majority of the past contributors to the campaign are receiving an appeal directly from the Kitchen through the mail.

Throughout the pandemic the Kitchen has continued to feed its guests. They receive their daily meals in take-out containers outside the building.

Also, out of concern for the health and safety of benefactors and board members, the typical Appreciation Reception that concludes the campaign will not be held in a gathered way. Instead, the culmination of the campaign will be marked with a Virtual Celebration consisting of a pre-recorded program. The release date will be Wednesday, April 28, at 6 p.m. Information on how to view the program will be announced as details are finalized.

Anyone who does not receive an appeal through the mail can make a Host‑for‑a‑Day gift by calling the Kitchen at 570-342‑5556, or sending a check to Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen, 500 Penn Avenue, Scranton PA 18509. Donations can also be made online at: www.stfranciskitchen.org or facebook.com/stfranciskitchen

Those who would like to sponsor the Virtual Reception are asked to call the Kitchen at 570-342‑5556.









Pope Francis greets people during an encounter with the elderly in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in this Sept. 28, 2014, file photo. During his Jan. 31 Sunday Angelus, the pope announced the establishment of a World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis announced the establishment of a World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly as a reminder of the important role they play as a link between generations.

During his Sunday Angelus address Jan. 31, the pope said the day will be celebrated every year on the fourth Sunday of July to coincide with the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ grandparents. The first celebration of this day will be July 25.

“It is important for grandparents to meet their grandchildren and for grandchildren to meet their grandparents because — as the prophet Joel says — grandparents, before their grandchildren, will dream and have great desires, and young people — taking strength from their grandparents — will go forward and prophesy,” he said.

Highlighting the Feb. 2 feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the pope said the recognition of Christ as the Messiah by the elderly Simeon and Anna is a reminder that “the Holy Spirit still stirs up thoughts and words of wisdom in the elderly today.”

“Their voice is precious because it sings the praises of God and safeguards the roots of peoples,” he said. “They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, passing on the experience of life and faith to the young.”

“Grandparents are often forgotten and we forget this wealth of preserving roots and passing on,” he added.

In a statement published shortly after the pope’s announcement, Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, said the yearly event was “a gift to the whole church” that emphasizes the pastoral care of the elderly as “a priority that can no longer be postponed by any Christian community.”

“In the encyclical, ‘Fratelli Tutti,’ the Holy Father reminds us that no one is saved alone. With this in mind, we must treasure the spiritual and human wealth that has been handed down from generation to generation,” he said.

Cardinal Farrell added that “today, more than ever, we are committed to making every effort to dismantle the throwaway culture and to enhance the charisms of grandparents and the elderly.”

The dicastery said Pope Francis will mark the first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly July 25 with an evening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. However, the Mass will be “subject to sanitary regulations in place at the time.”

“Closer to the world day, the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life will announce any further initiatives that will mark the event,” the statement said. “As of now, the dicastery is inviting parishes and dioceses around the world to celebrate this world day at the local level in ways that are suited to their pastoral context.”