Archive of July 11, 2010

New Orleans summer food program fills big need

New Orleans, La., Jul 11, 2010 (CNA) - Second Harvest Food Bank is filling a need that sometimes gets overlooked during the summer: ensuring that New Orleans children have nutritional food at least during the week.

Tony Biggs, director of culinary operations at Second Harvest, has helped develop an eight-week Summer Feeding program whereby breakfast and lunch are served to low-income children.

Leslie Doles, director of communications and public relations for Second Harvest, an affiliated corporation of Catholic Charities, said there is a real need for this program.

“Federally funded breakfast and lunch programs are important,” Doles said. “When schools are out for the summer, some kids don’t know when they will have their next meal because they lose their two meals a day through the free or reduced-price lunch programs at school. We are that safety net, filling that need they are not getting.”

Doles considers Summer Feeding a natural continuation of Second Harvest’s school year backpack program that sends food home with children on Fridays to ensure they have weekend food. She said only 13 percent of children receiving free and reduced lunch in Second Harvest’s service area have access to a summer feeding program.

Biggs, 53, who has a background in restaurant, resort hotel and casino food management, had to learn federal nutritional guidelines and food portioning before he started the program June 7.

4,000 meals a week

He’s currently providing approximately 4,000 meals a week – using a four-week menu plan – to children at five summer camp sites through July 30. The food is prepared at a central kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church.

Biggs said he avoided chicken nuggets and hot dogs and opted for more nutritional food. Lunch variety includes sweet and sour chicken with salad, fruit and milk; macaroni and cheese with collard greens, salad, fruit and chocolate pudding; spaghetti and meat sauce with carrots and fruit; beef tacos with refried beans, salad and fruit. Milk is a requirement at breakfast and lunch.

He was able to supplement the menu with more fresh fruit due to a generous, start-up grant from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.

“We’re giving a little extra with the money from Emeril Lagasse,” he said. “These kids won’t go away hungry. ... Our goal is to fill kids up.”

Betty Zachary, junior warden of Grace Episcopal, is thrilled with the quality of the food offered to her campers.

“Second Harvest took care of us,” she said, adding how Biggs tailored a vegetarian menu for her campers.

Summer Feeding is a pilot program – based on successful food bank programs in San Antonio, Texas, and Savannah, Ga. – to test the waters for expansion to other area centers and nonprofits.

Part of strategic plan

Offering Summer Feeding is just one aspect of Second Harvest’s long-range, strategic planning that began in 2007. The most important piece was moving – in April 2010 – to a 200,000-square-foot warehouse with dry and cold storage space on Edwards Avenue in Harahan. The former warehouse had only 29,000 square feet.

“We can now accept food that we could never accept before,” Doles said, such as fresh fruit, produce and more meat. More space also provides the ability to schedule more volunteers simultaneously to help process food donations and to provide additional nutrition assistance for seniors on fixed incomes and low-cost meals to feeding lines and member agencies.

“This will allow us to increase the number of meals we provide,” Doles said. “It will advance our mission to serve seniors and children.”

Goal: A permanent kitchen

Another part of the plan is adding a permanent, community kitchen with an initial goal of producing 100,000 prepared meals a month. A $1 million gift from Catholic Charities USA after Hurricane Katrina will jump start the projected $2 million project, Doles said.

Plans for this kitchen, being designed by Biggs, will be unveiled in August.

“The community kitchen can help us minimize the possibility of waste,” Doles said. “Fresh items can be prepared into meals. ... Our hope is to have a working kitchen in our warehouse by next summer.”

Pre-Katrina, Second Harvest distributed 14.5 million pounds of food. Over the past 12 months, Doles said 19 million meals were distributed. By 2013, she predicts that 38 million meals will be needed annually.

To meet the growing need for food, Second Harvest began partnering with local grocers with retail store pick-up. Second Harvest “rescues” food that is still good but taken off the shelves.

More cooler/freezer space, and a new cook/chill machine will be incorporated in the new kitchen. This will position Second Harvest to cook and freeze large volumes of food for quick distribution in cases of emergency such as a hurricane or the recent oil spill.

“Disaster response is a big part of our ministry whether it’s oil spill or hurricane related,” Doles said.

Other advantages of the larger warehouse: creating revenue sources for Second Harvest. Part of the new warehouse is being rented, but plans are to build a second show kitchen to be utilized by the community.

“We’ve come a long way since Katrina in terms of taking care of the community,” Doles said. “The community kitchen is an important element to help achieve future goals.”

Printed with permission from the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.


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Catholics prepare for feast of great Franciscan saint

CNA STAFF, Jul 11, 2010 (CNA) - This coming Thursday marks the feast day of St. Bonaventure, who is called “The Seraphic Doctor” of the Church. St. Bonaventure is known for his leadership of the Franciscans and his great intellectual contributions to theology and philosophy.

St. Bonaventure was born in Bagnorea in Tuscany, Italy. He is widely believed to have been born in the year 1221, although some accounts say 1217.

Sources recount that in his youth, St. Bonaventure was cured of a dangerous illness by the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi. He went on to join the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in 1243.

After making his vows, he was sent to complete his studies in Paris. He was taught first by Alexander of Hales, an English doctor and Franciscan, and later by John of Rochelle.

While in Paris, he became good friends with St. Thomas Aquinas, with whom he received the degree of Doctor. He also developed a friendship with St. Louis, King of France.

In 1257, St. Bonaventure was chosen to serve as the superior of the Friars Minor. In this position, which he filled for 17 years, he brought peace and order. His impact was so great that today he is sometimes referred to as the second founder of the Franciscans.

Taking on the position after a period of extraordinary expansion for the order, St. Bonaventure worked to preserve a spirit of unity. He calmed the threat of internal dissension that arose over differences in interpreting the message of St. Francis of Assisi. Central to this work was his understanding that the study of philosophy and theology did not oppose the call to poverty that was so central to Franciscan spirituality.

St. Bonaventure proposed a unified and collected text regulating the daily life of the Friars Minor. The text was accepted and ratified in 1260 by the General Chapter of the Order in Narbonne.

Wishing to present an authentic image of the life and teaching of their founder, he zealously collected documents about St. Francis of Assisi and heard testimonies of those who had actually known him. From this information, he compiled a biography of the saint that was adopted as his official biography by the General Chapter of the Friars Minor in 1263.

St. Bonaventure also wrote numerous mystical and ascetical treatises, most famously, “The Soul's Journey into God.”

In 1273, he was appointed by Pope Gregory X as Cardinal and Bishop of Albano. The Pope also asked him to help prepare the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons, an ecclesial event aimed at re-establishing communion between the Latin and Greek Churches.

St. Bonaventure worked to prepare the Ecumenical Council, but never saw its completion. He died on July 15, 1274, while the council was still in session. He was canonized in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV.

In his General Audience on March 3, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the life of St. Bonaventure. He called to mind the great works of literature, art, philosophy and theology that were inspired by the Christian faith during the time period in which the saint lived.

“Among the great Christian figures who contributed to the composition of this harmony between faith and culture Bonaventure stands out, a man of action and contemplation, of profound piety and prudent government,” Pope Benedict said.

The Pope called on the faithful to take note of “the central role that Christ always played in Bonaventure's life and teaching,” and to imitate the way in which “the whole of his thinking was profoundly Christocentric.”

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New family-friendly TV movie to air on NBC

Hollywood, Calif., Jul 11, 2010 (CNA) - A new family movie, “The Jensen Project,” is scheduled to air on NBC TV next Friday, July 16, at 7 p.m. CST as part of an effort to increase appropriate family entertainment.

The Vote With Your Remote movement is bringing the movie to television in response to persistent requests for more family-friendly programming.

The plot of the movie focuses on Claire and Matt Thompson and their teenage son, Brody. The family is involved with a secret community of geniuses known as The Jensen Project, who do research and share it anonymously to help the world. In a suspense-filled storyline, the Thompsons must race against the clock to prevent potentially dangerous technology from falling into the wrong hands. They follow clues and thwart evil schemes, and ultimately grow closer as a family in the process.

Working to publicize “The Jensen Project” is Motive Entertainment, the company that has promoted previous family movies including “Polar Express” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

According to Motive, “This is entertainment that the entire family can enjoy; since it’s on television, it’s essentially available for anyone to watch; and it’s something families can plan to do as an evening together.”

High ratings will illustrate to the entertainment industry that there is a significant audience for family movies and programs, Motive noted.

According to the Vote With Your Remote website, a recent study found that children spend more than 3,000 hours each year consuming entertainment, and a child will see an average of 200,000 violent images on television before age 18.

In addition, nearly 80 percent of parents expressed concern that “profanity, inappropriate sexual content and violence on TV programs has had a negative impact” on their children.

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Pope urges Christians to live with Christ's logic of charity

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Jul 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

In his first Angelus prayer from the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan. He said that the story from Luke's Gospel should lead us to change our thinking and living to Christ's logic, that of charity.

Beginning his pre-Angelus words to the faithful, the Pope first thanked God for giving him the possibility to enjoy a time of rest.

He then reflected on the question posed to Jesus by the scholar of the law who asked in today's Gospel reading what he should do to inherit eternal life. The Holy Father pointed out that, since the Lord knew the man was an expert in Sacred Scriptures, He invited the doctor to respond to the question himself.

The expert, "in fact, formulates (the answer) perfectly," said the Pope, "citing the two principal commandments: to love God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself."

And when Jesus responds to the scholar's question, "And who is my neighbor?," the Pope said, he does so "with the famous parable of the 'good Samaritan,' to indicate that it is up to us to be a 'neighbor' to whoever is in need of help."

This parable "should lead us to transform our mentality according to the logic of Christ, which is the logic of charity: God is love and worshiping him means serving our brothers with sincere and generous love," he explained.

The logic of Christ offers us a standard that flows from "the universality of love” which “turns attention to the needy person encountered 'by chance,' whoever they may be," the Pope said, citing his 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est.” "Along with this universal rule, there is also a specifically ecclesial responsibility: that 'in the Church herself, as a family, no member should suffer through being in need'.”

"The Christian plan," he concluded, "learned from the teaching of Jesus, is "a heart that sees" where there is need of love and acts consequently."

Before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father remembered the Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, who was made a patron of Europe in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. Immediately after pronouncing the name of the saint, the packed square erupted in applause with a shout of "Congratulations!" for the Pope's "name day."

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