Yesterday, Catholic Charities distributed meals and grocery boxes to 800 food-insecure families in front of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In addition to fresh produce and bourbon-glazed chicken, recipients got a package of peanut-butter, chocolate chip, and snickerdoodle cookies, courtesy of Great American Baking Show winner Brother Andrew Corriente.
A friar at Capuchin College, Corriente has long used his amateur culinary skills for service. In the pre-Covid era, part of his ministry involved providing home-cooked meals to day laborers outside a nearby Home Depot. Social distancing has complicated that, but Corriente is still finding ways to share his desserts with the world. In the past few months, he says he’s worked with multiple charities to get food and desserts to those in need, has donated cupcakes and cookies to hospitals, and has been baking birthday cakes for those who can’t afford them.
Since early March, Catholic Charities has given out roughly 200,000 meals in the Washington area, but an increase in the food insecure and decrease in volunteers means the organization has struggled to serve everyone who comes to them for help. Corriente says the organization is realizing that the pandemic is going to last for a while, and that their response now has to “move from a sprint to a marathon.” He encourages those who have the means to donate money to the organization to help keep the food pantry stocked.
For his part, Corriente will continue to make desserts for anyone who’s struggling right now. “We need to nourish our bodies through good nutrition, vegetables, protein sources,” he says. “But there’s a different emotion when you eat a good dessert…it gives you this intense moment of joy, and I feel like it helps uplift the soul. A meal can be nourishment but it can be so much more than that. It can transcend you into a heavenly realm. For me, the best thing that does that is cookies.”