The Saint Basil Food Pantry
 

 

Did you know that Buffalo has the third highest poverty rate in the nation? The St. Basil Food Pantry was established to meet the needs of our food insecure neighbors. We make food bag distributions at the church from 11:00 am to 12:15 pm on the last Saturday of the month and we ask our volunteers to be present from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm. If Saturdays don’t work for you, consider helping with the bagging on the last Friday of the month from 10:00-12:00. We collect food donations at the church on Mondays and Fridays and before services at the church and FLC. Check the weekly bulletin for specific food requests. We also accept cash donations by check to the church (specify St. Basil Food Pantry in the memo section) or through the church website (specify food pantry in the field next to your donation). To volunteer, email agocfoodpantry@aol.com.

 
Typical contents of a healthy food bag
 

How we got our name, the Saint Basil Food Pantry

St. Basil the Great is a beloved Saint of our Church. In honor of what his life teaches us about love of neighbor, we decided to name our food pantry the St. Basil Food Pantry of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. Saint Basil was born more than 1700 years ago (in 330 A.D.) in Asia Minor (current day Turkey). He grew up in a wealthy and spiritual family. His parents and grandmother taught him, and his four brothers and sisters, love of God and neighbor. He learned early to be generous not only at home, but also in the outside community. Throughout his life, he cared for, loved, and stayed connected to people who were going through tough times.

Saint Basil went to school in Athens, Greece, and Alexandria in Egypt. He became a lawyer and a teacher. He then met a Bishop who helped him discover the Gospel of Christ. Soon after, he was baptized a Christian. He went on to become a monk and gave away all his belongings to live in the caves of central Asia Minor. After a year, he returned to his home and started a monastery there. He and all his monks concentrated on works of service to the community. As a monk, Basil became well-known for his many writings and teachings about Christianity. He gave sermons, wrote prayers, and helped people learn about their faith. After a while, he became a priest. Basil was later made a Bishop and created many ministries. In particular, he established the world’s first formal soup kitchen to help those who were hungry! He also started a hospital, a homeless shelter, a hospice, an orphanage, reform centers for those who had been imprisoned, and much more! He was always personally involved and loved his neighbor deeply. All of these ministries were given freely to everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation. Basil also kept up religious services and preaching at his own Church. He believed that helping his neighbor must work hand in hand as part of the larger world of worship and prayer. Basil died on January 1, 379, at the age of 49, from liver disease. He was named a Saint soon after. St. Basil came from a very pious family. In all, there were nine members in his  family who were recognized as Saints.

On St. Basil’s Day (January 1st ), a Greek New Year’s bread (vasilopita in Greek) is baked in honor of a beautiful act of kindness by St. Basil. To ensure that those in need would have money for life’s necessities, and knowing that they were also proud people, St. Basil had the ladies of his Church bake sweet bread with coins baked inside them. This “Saint Basil bread” is a custom that continues to this day as an expression of the Christian love, kindness, and generosity that was exemplified by St. Basil. As you can see, St. Basil continues to be a Saint for our times!