By Kristen L. Byrd, Special to The Catholic Virginian

Saint Francis Home is known as “the place where love never grows old.” They help the most vulnerable in the community by offering housing to low or no-income individuals. In 2016 Saint Francis Home built a Nutrition Center to help nurture its residents. This was a massive undertaking that took three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete. Now, the Center needs help stocking up its food supplies.

Pam Embrey, Director of Advancement, has been working on funding the Nutrition Center. “The residents are unbelievable,” she says. Saint Francis Home feeds at least 125 residents by providing three full meals and three snacks daily, and that comes at a cost. Through its expanding partnership with Feedmore, Saint Francis Home has seen a dramatic increase in food donations. While this is a wonderful development, Saint Francis Home now needs more help transporting the food.

To assure Feedmore’s requirements are met for these food donations, Saint Francis Home needs a 16-foot refrigeration truck to pick up food from local grocers. Currently they rent a truck, but they cannot sustain the rental costs.

“A slightly used truck could cost $45-50,000,” Ms. Embrey says, and Saint Francis Home does not have that kind of expendable income. It is reaching out to the public for support in hopes of buying a refrigeration truck. This would help ensure that Saint Francis Home could pick up and transport all donations and deliver them to its residents in need.

Since early February, volunteers from Saint Francis Home have been picking up multiple pallets of donated food in the early hours of the morning several times a week. These donations reduce weekly food costs by hundreds of dollars. While food costs are down, there will always be a bill. Since Saint Francis Home has no way of knowing which items will be donated any given week, it purchases staples such as milk, eggs, and other food items from the Virginia Food Bank and Sysco, where they are sold at a discounted price. With the surge in donations, Saint Francis Home quickly recognized that its pick-up truck no longer met its needs as it did not have the capacity to transport multiple pallets. Saint Francis Home needs its own refrigeration truck, and for that, it needs your help.

One way to help is through the new Saint Francis Home online “Fill My Plate” campaign, which invites people to donate money, either in a lump sum or in monthly installments, to help reduce food costs. Another way is to contact Ms. Embrey directly with a donation. Ms. Embrey can be reached at 804-237-5602. In addition to much-needed monetary donations, Saint Francis Home is currently looking for volunteers to help pick up and transport donated food. To directly help reduce food costs, please visit www.saintfrancishome.givingfuel.com/fill-my-plate. To volunteer, please visit www.saintfrancishome.com/saintfrancis/volunteer-opportunities.