The Catholic University of America

November 15, 2011

Staff Member Helps Feed Hungry

  Traci Perkins works in the pantry of St. Jerome's Café.

Name: Traci Perkins

Title: Central reserves coordinator in the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library

Service: I serve on a team that feeds the hungry. I am also the pantry coordinator for St. Jerome’s Café, which is run by St. Jerome Parish.

Where: St. Jerome's Café in Hyattsville, Md.

Why: I have been serving at the parish for nine years as a team member and, in the last few years, as pantry coordinator. Serving at the café is a family affair, with my sisters and their families serving in times of need. The café serves a hot lunch and provides a bag lunch on Thursdays. Volunteers help as servers and cooks.

The pantry provides staples for the cooks to prepare the meals. St. Jerome's Academy, the parish school, provides bag lunches, and if we have supplies, the teams will supplement the lunches in case we do not have enough for the clients. Depending on the time of the month and weather, the café serves between 20 and 70 adults, some with small children.

The teams prepare the café, set up tables, and warm up food brought in by the cooks. When other team members arrive, they wash the tables, set out salt and pepper shakers, wrap utensils, count plates, and butter bread. If I have food to sort and date, I will do that. Then we sort the lunches from the school. A typical lunch should consist of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, fruit, juice, and a treat.

The café faces a lack of volunteers and food donations. Sometimes the clients are in need of social services, medical services, or a lawyer. This can be exhausting, and sometimes, I feel like I have another full-time job, but it is also rewarding. I enjoy meeting and speaking with our clients.

This year, charitable works — including those performed in long-term service projects — may be logged in Catholic University’s Cardinal Service Commitment, a service campaign marking Catholic University’s 125th anniversary. In thanksgiving for more than a century of God’s blessings at Catholic University, students, alumni, faculty, and staff are striving to perform 125,000 hours of service by next Founders Day, April 10, 2012. For more information and to log hours, visit