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Catholic Charities Celebrates Opening of Perry-St. Brigid Food Pantry

L-R: Gillian Brown, executive director of BMHA; Deacon Steve Schumer, president & CEO of Catholic Charities; Julie Lulek, senior director at Catholic Charities; Catherine Shick, public relations manager of FeedMore WNY; and Callie Johnson, deputy mayor, City of Buffalo.

Catholic Charities of Buffalo today celebrated the opening of its new Perry-St. Brigid Food Pantry located at 305 Perry St., Buffalo, with remarks and a blessing. This pantry, which has replaced the former Fulton-St. Brigid Pantry, provides an updated, expanded and more accessible space to better meet the needs of individuals and families in the community experiencing food insecurity.

The Perry-St. Brigid Food Pantry is open Wednesdays from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 12:30 – 2 p.m. The new pantry is anticipated to serve 1,745 households this year.

“The new location for this pantry provides a safer, more welcoming environment for our clients and staff and brings us closer to the community,” said Julie Lulek, senior director, Catholic Charities. “In this new space, we can offer more choice and better accommodate our clients whether meeting special diet needs or offering culturally appropriate foods. Client choice not only allows our volunteers to service the clients with dignity, but also results in less food waste.”

Deacon Steve Schumer, Catholic Charities president and CEO, offered a blessing on the new site, especially for the significance of its longtime and continued service to the neighboring community.

Funding for the 2,500-square foot pantry, which is located within the Commodore Perry Extension apartments was the result of a capital improvement initiative of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. The space includes a waiting room, offices, storage and client service areas.

“The decades-long relationship between the BMHA and Catholic Charities has been extremely beneficial to our residents and we are grateful to be able to continue the partnership in the new location at 305 Perry. The BMHA’s investment of nearly $500,000 to give the food pantry a larger, modern location will ensure our residents have access to fresh produce and staples,” said BHMA Executive Director Gillian D. Brown.

Buffalo leaders also praised the work of Catholic Charities.

“A cold, blustery day like today reminds us just how important an emergency food pantry is for people in need,” said Dr. Callie Johnson, Deputy Mayor of Buffalo. “This brand new facility in the Old First Ward will be able to serve more residents and will be more accessible. I want to thank Catholic Charities for once again stepping up and making a difference in our City.”

The Perry-St. Brigid Food Pantry name reflects its history with the former St. Brigid Parish, the Roman Catholic church built in 1859 at Fulton and Louisiana streets. The parish is said to have served for more than 100 years as the center of the Irish immigrant community in the city’s First Ward neighborhood. In its latter days, the parish initiated a food pantry. Later the pantry moved to 488 Perry St. in the federal housing project, where a few of the Sisters of Mercy who served the church from its beginnings also lived at one time. The Sisters of Mercy were leading and working in the pantry during the 1990s when it moved to the most recent location for the Fulton-St. Brigid Food Pantry, 170 Fulton St., also in the Commodore Perry housing.

The pantry in central Buffalo is one of nine Catholic Charities’ pantry and outreach centers in Western New York with seven pantries in Erie County, as well as a pantry located in both Wellsville and Franklinville. Each pantry has emergency food and offers information and referrals. Trained volunteers assess and help those in need through these centers.