They come for a hot, nutritious daily meal. Some return for a supper served three nights a week. All enjoy a friendly atmosphere and socialization with their fellow guests, and being treated with dignity and respect by staff and volunteers.
Many visit the Client-Choice Food Pantry and Free Clothing Store, getting what they need for themselves and their families.
Approximately 200 men, women and children of all ages benefit from these services provided by Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton each day. This includes those who are offered meals through the Mid Valley Outreach Program at parish locations and high-rise housing buildings in Carbondale and Olyphant.
Founded in 1978, the Kitchen has been able to do all of this due to the dedicated service of staff and volunteers, and with financial support from the community – primarily through the annual Host‑for‑a‑Day campaign. The 2022 campaign is now underway.
For a donation of $100 or more, an individual, family, business, community organization or faith-based group can help to sponsor the day’s meal. Recognized sponsorships begin at the $500 contribution level.
In effect, each contributor becomes a “host” for a day. Contributors may then select a date on which they, or someone they designate or memorialize, will be recognized as the provider for that meal.
Through its partnership with the Kitchen, lunch is provided each Wednesday at Holy Cross Parish in Olyphant, where Father Scott Sterowski serves as pastor. Frank Marek is among those who is grateful for this service.
“This is a great opportunity for those in our area to receive a well-balanced meal, especially now, during these financially challenging times,” he said, adding that donations to the Host-for-a-Day campaign are “greatly appreciated and go directly toward providing a hot, nourishing meal to anyone who could use one.”
Sue Ann Edmunds, a resident of the Carbondale Housing Authority North High Rise, loves the meals provided by the Kitchen “because they are tasty and convenient. My income is limited and this is a big help!”
In addition, she is a member of the Housing Authority Team that helps to deliver the meals to other residents. And when she recently had an extra $20 she donated it to the Kitchen “because it’s a great cause!”
While many are familiar with how the Kitchen provides these meals, they might not be aware of just how important the Client-Choice Food Pantry is.
According to Kitchen Executive Director Rob Williams, there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals and families who take advantage of the pantry in recent months – well over 1,000 individuals and 503 family servings in January alone. He noted that pantry offerings have expanded to include cleaning supplies and ensure fresh produce each day of operation.
“We see individuals and people with children coming to our food pantry every week,” he said. “They need these items to help feed their families. They are so grateful that we offer this service.”
Maria McCool, a member of the Kitchen’s Advisory Board, is chairing the Host-for-a-Day campaign and leading the effort with her fellow board members.
“We are fortunate to be able to help our sisters and brothers in need even with all the challenges of the pandemic,” she said. “And we are truly blessed by so many in our community who continue to support our mission.”
Past contributors to the campaign are receiving an appeal directly from the Kitchen through the mail or will be contacted by members of the Kitchen’s Advisory Board.
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.
Also, out of continuing 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 again this year. 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 27, at 6 p.m. on www.facebook.com/stfranciskitchen.
This year the Virtual Celebration will honor Monsignor Constantine V. Siconolfi, founder of the Kitchen, and Toyota of Scranton for outstanding support.
Those who would like to sponsor the Virtual Reception are asked to call the Kitchen at 570-342‑5556.