St. Joseph Parish in Farmington and St. Rose of Lima Parish in Jay have been named recipients of Matthew 25 Awards, which include grants ranging from $3,000 to $5,000.

The awards, presented by Catholic Charities Maine’s Parish Social Ministry program, are given to parishes to assist them in expanding their capacity to serve more people or to develop a new social ministry. The ministries receiving the awards must be directly serving vulnerable people in need, regardless of faith affiliation, and adhering to the principles of the Bible verse Matthew 25 (“I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink …”).

The $3,000 grant will be used to support the parishes’ meal initiatives that serve thousands of local people in need each month. The St. Joseph Nutrition Center in Farmington feeds the hungry of Franklin County by preparing and serving takeout meals each week, providing a 24/7 “Blessing Box” outside of the building for people to come and take groceries, hosting educational events regarding proper nutrition and cooking techniques, and maintaining a walk-in food pantry inside the building.

The center is run by volunteers. St. Rose of Lima Parish, which shares parish social ministry planning and resources with St. Joseph, also offers several different community food assistance programs from its parish hall in Jay, including a separate “Blessing Box,” a takeout meal on Fridays, and a self-serve refrigerator with food located inside the entryway to the hall that is stocked with perishable food items.

“Providing self-serve, anonymous food access at both parishes helps reduce the stigma often associated with asking for free food. Our primary need for further growing our capacity to serve is additional refrigeration and freezer space,” said Max Becher, director of parish social ministry at both parishes, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. “We often receive food donations in unpredictable and large quantities and are limited in what we can receive by our storage infrastructure.”

Also, Good Shepherd Parish (Most Holy Trinity Church, Saco; St. Joseph Church, Biddeford; St. Margaret Church, Old Orchard Beach; St. Philip Church, Lyman; St. Brendan Chapel, Biddeford Pool) was awarded a grant of $5,000 for Esther Residence, a home in Saco for women who are leaving incarceration or a treatment program because of substance abuse.

For more information about the many Parish Social Ministry programs assisting throughout Maine and ways to help, visit ccmaine.org/parish-social-ministry.