Need is surging during the time of coronavirus. The St. Vincent de Paul Portland Council has limited staff, so appointments for rent and utility aid fill up quickly.

The parish conferences also are seeing an increase. At Holy Redeemer Parish in North Portland, for example, volunteers served 46 families in one week, a record in the conference’s 92 years. The standard count is about 20 families per week.

“This could be our new normal,” said Nick Santangelo, president of the Holy Redeemer conference.

“I’m so proud of the whole St. Vincent de Paul crew,” said Holy Cross Father Pat Neary, pastor of Holy Redeemer. “You are right where Jesus would be in these times of hardship. And he’s actually there because you meet him in the people.”

Conferences have changed distribution models to slow spread of the virus. Many churches that had guests come into the pantry to shop have reverted to filling food boxes that are handed outside to those in need.