ASK FATHER: I want to get food to elderly people with health problems

From a reader…


If in my city people are under lockdown from the virus, I would like to make food for the homeless in the area and distribute it to them. My mother frequently is involved in groups with elderly people with underlying health problems, and so my concern is contracting the virus from someone while I am out in the city, passing it along to her, and having her pass it along to the elderly. Is this enough of a concern that I should find a different way to serve the poor in this situation? Thank you!

I love the fact that you are interested in this.  Just this morning in a sermon I mentioned works of charity even in the face of growing anxiety.

Yes, if you are going to be out and around, there will be greater risk of contagion.  However, you can take some steps to reduce this, perhaps in consultation with doctors who know and understand your project.

It would be a good idea to get organized NOW for this.

A couple practical points.

If may be that some people can do some shopping online with their stores.  In that case, they might not have a way safety to get to the store to pick things up.   Doing some delivery of pre-purchased items could help.

Perhaps readers have more ideas about how to help older people or people who are at risk.

Perhaps also it would be good to start creating networks for people to inform priests about hearing confessions (safely) and anointing the sick (safely).



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. excalibur says:

    The Archdiocese of New York has canceled all Masses beginning today. Seems that Dutchess County banned groups larger than 20 from one place, so rather than just cancel in that county they canceled the entire area that the Archdioces covers. Sad.

    Churches will remain open for private prayers.

  2. Cafea Fruor says:

    A lot of the households in my area are on, and a number of healthy neighbors are posting that they are willing to run to stores, pick up prescriptions, and handle other errands for the elderly, sick, or otherwise needy during this time for free. Maybe there’s something similar in your neighborhood?

  3. rcg says:

    Funny this came up. Our Knights of Columbus contacted or priest about this and are figuring out the process now. Basically what you said, Fr. Z, using the local online grocery shopping to make the purchase and a Knight does the pickup curbside and leaves it at the porch for the quarantined person. No human contact. For the REALLY hard up we also run a food pantry drop off so we might divert some of that the to shut in.

    If you are game, Fr. Z, I would be interested in hearing on here how other people make this work and ideas they have.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  4. Semper Gumby says:

    Across the fruited plains notices have been appearing on bulletin boards in apartment lobbies as neighbors offer assistance. Several restaurants and fast food chains are offering free meals to children as some schools close. CC Pecknold has started connecting via Twitter Catholics who may be in need of assistance with other Catholics. A near-professional violinist has Vivaldi ready in case of lockdown (I’m told she’s really good). Some people are planning to take Christmas lights out of the boxes and put them back up. A few people have printed and distributed lyrics to uplifting songs, and scripts to short plays or famous scenes from Shakespeare. Some people are distributing books such as The Wind in the Willows, P.G. Wodehouse, Tolkien and Voyage to Alpha Centauri, along with CDs of Mozart, Bach and Gregorian chant. A break from TV and internet.

  5. rcg says:

    Update: our pastor has notified our parish of the Knights’ offer to help with deliveries. I braced for response. Not a single one. We have many elderly and sick. The local major supermarket chain has hired loads of people and has waived the delivery fee. So please say a prayer for their wisdom. Maybe that is the reason no one needs the service. But on Sunday we had 4000 logins to the broadcast of our Mass. So the 4000 could actually be two or three times that. We have only about 700 families.

    So the Knights will contact the local food banks to see what they need.

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