Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Allentown has been serving up food and spiritual assistance to those in need through its two ecumenical kitchens for decades. To ensure these vital services remain in continuous operation, Catholic Charities partnered with the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania to create two endowment funds:
- Catholic Charities Lehigh Valley Ecumenical Kitchen Fund
Fund supports the operations, supplies, special programs, equipment maintenance and replacement, other maintenance and capital improvements associated with the Catholic Charities ecumenical kitchen in the Lehigh Valley.
- Catholic Charities Schuylkill County Ecumenical Kitchen Fund
Fund supports the operations, supplies, special programs, equipment maintenance and replacement, other maintenance and capital improvements associated with the Catholic Charities ecumenical kitchen in Schuylkill County, PA.
“It’s important to keep our ecumenical kitchens in Allentown and Pottsville open and operating in the future,” Rob Nicolella, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, said. “The people in both of those communities depend on our services.”
The History of These Ecumenical Kitchens
The Allentown Ecumenical Kitchen or EK opened at the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (179 Chew St., Allentown) in 1982. This year marks the kitchen’s 40th year of operation. In 2021, 25,758 meals were served in Allentown (approximately 165 meals per day three days per week).
Pottsville’s Soup Kitchen or PAK, located in St. Patrick Church (504 Mahantongo St., Pottsville), opened in 1992. This year marks PAK’s 30th year of operation. In 2021, 13,762 meals were served in Pottsville (approximately 66 meals per day four days per week).
“Not only does the ecumenical kitchen program feed the body, but it also feeds the mind by offering various counseling services, and spiritual guidance,” Nicolella said. “Our hope is to serve those in need forever.”
With the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with the current economic downturn, Nicolella said the agency has seen a 35 percent increase in meals served at its Allentown location and 20 percent increase in Pottsville. Prior to Covid, both locations were serving meals on additional days. However, recent volunteer shortages at both locations have prevented the agency from increasing its days of operation.
Helping to Solve Food Insecurity in the Greater Lehigh Valley
Solving food insecurity is an important issue facing communities in the Greater Lehigh Valley region and across the country.
“By starting both of these funds today, interested people can help build them up,” Pete Waldron, President of the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania, said. “A healthy endowment fund ensures there will be future income to keep the kitchens in operation, so no one goes hungry.”
Waldron said an endowment fund provides the perfect repository for donors to make contributions. Gifts may be made now with cash, IRA transfers and appreciated stock or later with a gift in a will, memorials, and IRA, investment or insurance beneficiaries.
For more information on donating to the Catholic Charities Lehigh Valley Ecumenical Kitchen Fund or the Catholic Charities Schuylkill County Ecumenical Kitchen Fund, please visit www.catholicfoundationep.org/funds/ or email at email@example.com.
If you are interested in volunteering at one of the ecumenical kitchens, please call Catholic Charities at 610-435-1541.