Christ cross

Cross Catholic Outreach helps feed Ukrainians, providing other aid

WASHINGTON, DC – “We call ourselves premier first responder providers,” said Jim Cavnar, president of Cross Catholic Outreach.

Based in Boca Raton, Florida, the international Catholic charity has helped the world’s most vulnerable people with $3.3 billion in total assistance in more than 85 countries since its founding in 2001 by Cavnar and a small group of his colleagues.

Its disaster relief interventions have included building safe houses following the devastating earthquakes in Haiti in 2010 and 2021, hurricane relief in places like Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic , and emergency food and medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the charity has been helping Ukrainian refugees, including across the border in Poland, and people displaced inside Ukraine.

More recently, Cross Catholic Outreach provided a cash grant, which funded 816,480 meals for these Ukrainians.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, since the start of the war on February 24, more than 5.2 million Ukrainian refugees have been registered across Europe, as of July 4; nearly 1.2 million are in Poland.

The agency estimates that 7.7 million people are internally displaced due to the conflict, equivalent to 17.5% of the total population.

The meals funded by Cross Catholic Outreach were provided in partnership with Feed My Starving Children, a Protestant organization based in Coons Rapids, Minnesota, and the largest provider of an enhanced rice meal called Vitafood, Cavnar told Catholic News Service. .

The rice is enriched with soy protein, vitamins, minerals, flavors and dehydrated vegetables and contains approximately 12 grams of protein per serving. Dry food, it is easily transported and is prepared in boiling water by the recipients.

This rice product is a great food that has been used in “malnutrition situations,” but it’s also great for emergencies, Cavnar explained. “It’s completely nutritious and portable…and it’s a good way to provide economical food.”

Cavnar said Cross Catholic Outreach is also working with Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal chaplain, to provide food, clothing, generators, ambulances and other relief to displaced families and refugees.

The cardinal delivered two ambulances that the charity helped buy — and which the pope blessed: one was destined for a hospital in Kyiv and the other for a hospital in Lviv, Cavnar said.

Pope Francis sent Krajewski, who heads the Office of Papal Charities, and Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny, acting president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, as his envoys to bring relief, hope and encouragement to suffering Ukrainians.

Cross Catholic Outreach is also working with Caritas to provide displaced families with food, water, infant formula, blankets and sanitation kits at three centers in Ukraine in Lutsk, Struga and Nowa Uszyca.

The charity is also helping the Archdiocese of Przemysl in Poland, near the Ukrainian border, to help refugees at its reception centres, where they receive food, shelter and trauma therapy, while the local partners help families find living conditions, employment and a school for the children.

Cavnar said Cross Catholic Outreach receives regular contributions for its efforts to help Ukrainians from its regular donors, “who know us and trust us,” as well as from people looking to support a Christian agency doing such work.

The charity helps the needy around the world because it takes Christ’s command to do so seriously, he noted.

“We are the church and Christ said to us, ‘Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me.’ The church does what it always does – respond to those in need,” Cavnar said.

Where needed, “the church is there,” he added.

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Editor’s Note: More information about Cross Catholic Outreach can be found online at