About 300 to 400 people were served dinner Sunday at the Poverello House in downtown Fresno, where officials expressed disappointment that other community groups did not coordinate efforts to feed the needy on Christmas Day.
However, other volunteers expressed delight at the chance to pitch in and help the disadvantaged.
Recently, it has become a trend for churches and other local volunteer agencies to serve food to the homeless and poor near the Poverello, on South G Street, on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Paul Stack, the operations director for Poverello House, said that has led to a decline in the number of those eating a traditional dinner at the Poverello itself.
On Sunday, about 600 dinners were prepared. Of the leftovers, Stack said the food would be served throughout the week at the Poverello, which has been feeding the poor in downtown Fresno for decades.
It isn’t the first time the Poverello has been left with unserved meals. On Thanksgiving, Poverello officials prepared about 800 dinners and only served about a third of them.
Another traditional Poverello Christmas mission was on target, however: About 5,000 presents were distributed to children earlier Sunday.
Stack said Poverello officials would like to work with other volunteers who want to serve food, which would allow the needy to eat meals inside Poverello facilities and out of the cold. That would also make it easier for Poverello volunteers and city workers in the following days, because now they face cleanup chores along G Street after the outside meals are served.
Paula Yang, of Hmong USA TV, and other volunteers from the Hmong community spent Sunday serving food on G Street. She said the effort helped “our community to understand the need out here of the homeless population.” She said the response was “unbelievable.”
“I know everybody wants to spend time with their families, but I said, ‘Come on you guys, just an hour or two is what we need.’ And of course, I bought all the food.”
About joining the effort by Poverello to feed the needy, Yang replied:
“I think a lot of people are noticing (Fresno’s homeless problem) and of course, they do want to make a difference.”