Partner Spotlight: St. Patrick’s Center
May 16, 2023
St. Patrick’s Center on 14th Street in Wilmington has been a community fixture for 50 years. Led by Executive Director Peter Slattery (pictured left), the center “transforms lives by building community, addressing poverty and restoring hope.”
This center takes a holistic approach to meeting the needs of community members. It offers hot breakfast, groceries, showers, laundry services and other social services to community members. An on-site social worker is also available to help with resource referrals, and a senior center provides entertainment and fellowship for area seniors. Busses, operated by the center and donated by DART, provide transportation to and from.
As a partner agency of the Food Bank of Delaware, St. Patrick’s Center receives no-cost food from the Food Bank to help meet the needs of the community. Hot breakfasts, a choice food pantry, a monthly Saturday fresh food distribution and a monthly senior meal box distribution help to meet the nutritional needs of the community.
Slattery says that most of the center’s visitors come from Wilmington’s 19801 and 19802 zip codes. According to the State of Delaware’s MyHealthy Community dashboard, more than a quarter of residents live below the poverty line.
Elizabeth Sanon (pictured right) is the Food Program Director for St. Patrick’s Center and notes seeing increases in demand due to inflation and the end of pandemic-era emergency SNAP benefit allotments. “Demand is up 200% compared to this time last year,” she said.
To help meet these increased demands, the Center relies on community donations, volunteers, and a variety of food sources including regular fresh food donations from Trader Joes and Acme. Each week, 302 Food Rescue Crew members pick up from the Naamans Road Acme and deliver to the center. Providing fresh food is a priority for Peter and Elizabeth. Many of the center’s visitors have difficulties accessing perishable foods due to cost.
Every week day morning, a line forms outside the center as community members wait their turn for breakfast. In addition to breakfast, tables filled with nonperishable and perishable foods line the St. Patrick’s church hall. Visitors can select the foods best suited for their households, and shelf-stable meal kits provided by the Food Bank are also a convenient option for the center’s transient population. Peter and Elizabeth point out that community members can receive food assistance as often as they need it. Due to limited storage and small refrigeration spaces, many neighbors only take a few items at a time.
Last year, the organization provided more than 300,000 meals to neighbors in need, even with limited space. Currently, food for its distribution programs is stored on the second floor of the center and carted down via elevator each day. More cold storage space is also needed. The organization hopes a recent influx of $600,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund will help increase efficiencies so the team can distribute even more food to the community.
The team at St. Patrick’s serves its community with dignity, respect and compassion. To learn more about the organization’s work, click here.