Houston-Area Latino Mission Feeds Thousands Feeling Coronavirus Impact

The Rev. Pedro López assists by putting food in the car of a food pantry client.

Pasadena, Texas – Iglesia Episcopal San Pedro fed over 2,300 persons through its feeding and assistance ministry this past Wednesday. San Pedro’s non-profit, North Pasadena Community Outreach, partners with the Houston Food Bank to host a weekly food pantry. Normally NPCO distributes food to around two-hundred families as well as offering benefits assistance. However, the novel coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a nearly 250% percent increase in the numbers of those served.

“Many of our families are especially vulnerable because they work jobs without wage protection and job security. When so many employers cancel on their housekeepers or workers, families lose their income,” stated the Rev. Pedro López, vicar of San Pedro. “The situation is even more devastating for refugees and undocumented immigrants who will not be eligible for financial assistance from the government.” López added.

San Pedro’s feeding ministry was made possible through the participation of over twenty volunteers. “Most of these volunteers are young adults from the church community, who are themselves out of work,” said the Rev. David Goldberg, curate. “They stepped up to help when we sent many of our regular volunteers home because their age made them especially at-risk.” Volunteers are required to practice social distancing, wear masks and gloves, and avoid close contact with clients.

Four hundred and forty-six cars followed a mile-long trail that winded through three school parking lots and down a nearby thoroughfare. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Celia Curiel, site-manager. “Normally we see a couple of hundred families, but many of these people have never been here before, I’ve even seen friends and fellow parishioners here for the first time. So many people are struggling.”

Iglesia San Pedro is located in an industrial suburb of Houston. The neighborhood consists of mostly immigrant families, many of whom suffer from the effects of endemic poverty. According to the Episcopal Health Foundation, the average life expectancy in North Pasadena is over twenty years less than those of more affluent Houston-area neighborhoods. “The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities. This makes the work of Houston Food Bank partners, like San Pedro, all the more important,” said Houston at-large City Councilman David W. Robinson. “I have been so impressed by the willingness of religious communities, including and especially Episcopal churches, to do God’s work, even as they responsibly close their doors for Sunday worship.”



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