The need for food assistance is growing in these difficult times, with Cathollic Charities reporting that the number of meals they’re distributing through a soup kitchen and food pantry in Bridgeport has doubled or tripled from about 150 meals a day last year to 300 or 450 a day recently amid the coronavirus crisis.

St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield is responding with a food drive Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to noon in the St. Mary School parking lot.

“Pull up, open your trunk, volunteers will take donations and Parish priests will offer a blessing while you remain in your car,” St. Mary Parish said in a press release.

Carolyn Haitsch of St. Mary Parish offered some background:

“Demand for food resources at Thomas Merton Center, run by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Bridgeport, has exploded in the past few weeks. They are a soup kitchen that is open 6 days a week, serving breakfast and lunch along with a food pantry which provides 10 days of groceries to low income families.

“Last year at this time they were distributing 150 meals per day. Now they are distributing 300-450 meals a day as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. The clients that they serve are hourly workers who have recently lost their job, homeless, immigrants and the mentally ill.”

A list of “most needed items” was provided by the parish to offer some direction to people who are interested in donating.

Most needed items include: bottled water, bread (for sandwiches), small cereal boxes, to-go snacks of any kind, power/energy bars, granola bars, muffins, bagels, bananas, pastries, oranges, individual servings of cream cheese, raisins (large packages), salad dressing, potatoes, onions, carrots, rice, large canned goods, sugar and sweetener packets, grits or farina, peanut butter (smooth), jelly, hot sauce, pancake syrup, coffee, honey, soy sauce.

People may also donate online through www.themertoncenter.org or mail donations to

The Thomas Merton Center, 43 Madison Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604