Union Mission, Latrobe
The Union Mission in Latrobe operates both an emergency shelter, as well as a permanent supportive housing program for homeless men. The organization is a partner agency of the Westmoreland County Food Bank to provide on-site feeding programs for their clients. Through this service, the men served by Union Mission have access to nutritious meals daily.
How have you been affected by hunger?
As the only shelter program for men in Westmoreland County, we see hunger quite regularly. While being without shelter is often the result of complex and compounding issues, economics plays a large role. Many of the people we serve will share stories about the sacrifices made when it came to food because of their circumstances. I remember stories about one young man surviving on canned ravioli, another man eating only a peanut butter and jelly sandwich a couple of times per week, and another who said that he would collect change in parking lots to buy Ramen noodles. Being able to provide relief to their hunger conjures a mix of emotions: happiness to know that we can help; sadness that there are still many people in our community who struggle with having food; gratefulness that my cupboards aren’t bare.
How has the Westmoreland County Food Bank impacted your life?
The Westmoreland County Food Bank has a significant impact at the Union Mission and the men we serve. From an agency perspective, we are fortunate to be able to partner with the Food Bank. Without their support and the support of our other community partners, we would not be able to afford to purchase food for the residents of our program. The food received from WCFB has a direct impact on our men and allows us to prepare and serve quality, nutritious meals. Because of their circumstances, for many of our men, food has not always been easily accessible. Our guys tend to regain 10-15 pounds during their residency because they receive three meals each day and snacks. It is truly amazing to see the relief in someone’s eyes when they don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
What would you tell someone who may be thinking about donating to the Food Bank?
The Westmoreland County Food Bank leverages resources that individually we couldn’t achieve. Their work is valued and appreciated by organizations, consumers, and concerned citizens alike. The quality of their efforts and their responsiveness to the needs in our communities is exceptional. Food is essential for life and we are talking about lives that matter – you should give knowing because it directly impacts the life of a neighbor, a friend, a community member.