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Fish fry helps local church make ends meet, brings community together

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 12:30:21-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Fish fries are back for this season of lent and parish council president at Holy Spirit Church in Buffalo, Mike Cheman, said it’s about bringing the community together.

“We’re not using this as a platform to fundraise,” Cheman said. “But more as a platform to bring our parishioners back.”

This year, fish fries at Holy Spirit are $15, that’s three dollars more than last year.

“We’re trying to keep the costs down just because we don’t want to discourage people from coming,” Cheman said. “We want people to come back.”

Anthony Aljoe, chef at Amici Ristorante and fish fry chef for the church, said the fish fry price increased by a few dollars because the price for fish doubled.

“It’s a little crazy, but we find ways to go about it," Aljoe said. “My distributor works well with us to try and keep costs down but at the same time if you want something sometimes it’s a little more.”

Holy Spirit uses the profits from their fish fry to stock their community food pantry. And Cheman said even with the cost of fish doubling and profits decreasing, they’re not having too much trouble keeping that pantry full.

“The parishioners here at our church, even though mass attendance has decreased, are still very generous,” Cheman said. “So, they are donating to our food pantry.”

Cheman said the food pantry serves all of North Buffalo, but this year, the demand is not as high.

“Oddly enough, the clientele for the food pantry has declined a little bit,” Cheman said.

So, Cheman said he hopes the money brought in will offset fish fry costs with a little left over for the food pantry.

And this year, 175 fish are being made at holy spirit

“Before COVID it was normally 250, so this is scaled back a little,” Aljoe said. “But it will be fine.”

Cheman and Aljoe said they are excited for this year’s fish and many to come.

“I’m glad to be part of this community and this parish,” Aljoe said. “And to make them the best fish fry I can.”

LENT 2022: HERE ARE 35 PLACES TO GET A FISH FRY IN WNY, FROM CHURCHES TO FIRE HALLS TO RESTAURANTS