Cars began lining up early Friday at Bishop McNamara Catholic High School in Kankakee. For the first time, the school hosted a pop-up food distribution — and they fed more than 1,400 people, including 115 children.

“With inflation rising, the numbers of families needing help is going up and up,” says Associate Michelle Barrie, who serves as the coordinator of Catholic Ministry at the school.

Barrie and her husband, Associate Ken Barrie, drew help from the Hearts of Hope youth ministry group, which they have led for more than 20 years at St. Patrick Parish in Kankakee. Many of the teens in the group attend Bishop McNamara, and they stepped up to organize the distribution, including applying for a grant from the Viatorian Community to help underwrite the event.

With the Viatorians’ help, the teens drew Catholic Charities and the Northern Illinois Food Bank to partner on the distribution.

Bishop McNamara hosted the event after serving last November as the staging area for all the food collected by area teens on Harvest Sunday.

“This event was so successful, we’re hoping to do it twice a year,” Barrie said. “The kids loved that they could help so many families in the community.”

Associate Michelle Barrie with some of her teens.

Ken and Michelle Barrie made their first commitments as associates in 2006. Together, they are committed to accompanying young people in their faith development — and to advance one of the Viatorians’ main priorities: fighting hunger.