We are dedicated to feeding those in need; body, mind and soul.
Heart, Love and Soul (H&S) was founded by the prayer group of Sacred Heart Parish more than 30 years ago. Aware of the needs of the neighborhood, members of the prayer group were inspired by Jesus' words in Matthew 25, "Whatever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, you do to me." The original food pantry grew into a dining program. Meals were prepared in the store front on Pierce Avenue and taken to a church to be served. The church location changed as space was available. In 2003 the current location was purchased and renovated. The pantry, kitchen and dining room are all at this site. Checkout our latest newsletter here.
Welcome to Niagara Falls! We appreciate your time and efforts in assisting with our programs at Heart & Soul and your efforts in the community at large. Have a safe and especially fun time visiting the Cataract City!
The Dining Room
An average of 60 meals at breakfast and 150 meals at lunch are served daily in the dining room. More guests frequent the dining room late in the month when their food dollars run low. When school is not in session, we have many children. Food for the dining room is purchased with private donations and grants, with much food being procured through the Food Bank of Western New York.
Approximately half of our regular guests struggle with mental illness, while others are developmentally delayed. Elderly couples who have lived all their lives in the neighborhood join us, as do single parents with children.
The food pantry serves over 700 individuals each month, providing food for families who are able to prepare it at home. Shelves in the pantry are filled with food procured from the WNY Food Bank as well as food purchased through donations. Following New York State Department of Health guidelines, each guest receives enough food for twelve meals. There is also fresh produce, frozen meats, eggs, milk, and cheese available.
Guests of the pantry include the chronically poor, those on fixed incomes and many waiting for their first check for unemployment, disability or public assistance. A case worker can offer assistance to guests who are eligible for public assistance.
Guests of the food pantry select their groceries once a month. With the assistance of volunteers, guests "shop" in the pantry and select food that is to their preference and dietary need. Allowing guests to choose what food they want within categories including grains, proteins, and fruits & vegetables, ensures that food will be used; food that are available are consistent with guest preferences.
Guests are also invited to choose items from the extra shelf. The extra shelf includes items purchased with donations and given by individuals, churches and community groups. This shelf contains food items such as snacks, drink mixes, cooking and baking ingredients, and easy meals, such as Ramen noodles.
Heart, Love & Soul provides these services without discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, and reprisal or relational for prior civil rights activity.
Community Care Coordinator
The Community Care Program at Mt. St. Mary Hospital provides a community care coordinator to offer health and wellness guidance to assist guests in monitoring chronic health problems and avoiding serious medical concerns through information sharing and referral to appropriate providers. The Care Coordinator also sets up health fairs and clinics for guests, as well as coordinates services provided by Mt. St. Mary's Hospital and the Niagara County Health Department, including flu and T-DAP shots and health screenings. The Care Coordinator works closely with Mt. St. Mary's Neighborhood Health Center, located less than a mile from Heart & Soul.
A case worker is available to guests five days a week. The case worker assists guests with needed services, completion of forms, referrals, securing identification, and a variety of other needs, including housing and transportation.
The case worker works closely with veterans services to assist guests who have served our country in the armed forces. Services available for veterans include medical, financial and housing services. According to the 2010 Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, approximately 107,000 veterans experience homelessness on a given night. A 2014 report complied by Feeding America reveled that approximately 1 in 4 households with someone currently in active duty or reserves is receiving food assistance. Each year we honor guests who served or currently are serving our nation in the armed forces on Veterans Day.
Cooking and Nutrition Classes
Each month, a dietitian from Just Say "Yes" to Fruits and Vegetables comes to teach preparation of low-cost, nutritious meals. The ingredients in each meal include the types of food typically available in the food pantry or food that can be purchased at low cost. Each participant is given groceries to prepare the recipe at home. This program is always enthusiastically over-enrolled.
Dietitians from Cornell Cooperative Education also frequent the dining room, providing food tastings of simple recipes and offering 'hands on' cooking classes in our staff room for guests to roll up their sleeves and make a delicious tasting, healthy meal.
Courage to Change (Narcotics Anonymous) meets weekly at Heart and Soul. Meetings are held Thursdays and Fridays from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm. All involved in twelve step recovery are welcome to participate in the meetings.
Other community groups that hold regular meetings at Heart & Soul include: Niagara County Coalition for Services to the Homeless and Niagara County Community Service Agencies.
Annual celebrations include: Heart & Soul's anniversary (February 14), Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Each Spring, podiatrists offer a clinic which includes foot washing, foot massage and an examination for referral to a podiatrist.
Once a month, guests registered in the pantry receive a referral slip to obtain certain household and toiletry items unavailable for purchase with SNAP benefits (food stamps) from our Necessary Shop in the Dining Room. These items include bleach, laundry detergent, toilet paper, tooth brushes and tooth paste, razors and shaving cream, and even cleaning supplies.
Additional programs offered include exercise classes, BINGO, haircuts and children's activities during school breaks. Summertime includes painting, movies and arts & crafts for children and adults. Children can enjoy day camp at Niagara University, week-long camp at St. Vincent de Paul Camp, Angola, NY, and Summer Fun Weeks at Heart & Soul.