In 2007, the Westmoreland County Food Bank conducted a Gap Study which determined that there were 40,000 people who qualified for but were not receiving food-assistance; this was in addition to the 15,000 already being served by WCFB. After extensive research and planning, the WCFB Board of Directors agreed to align with Feeding America’s® Strategic Plan for outreach and expansion throughout Westmoreland County. The focus of this strategy was to find new food, new funds and new friends to assist in reaching the underserved while maintaining quality service for current consumers.
Early in the project’s planning stage, the United Way of Westmoreland County partnered with WCFB to provide funds for staff support for the project. Outreach efforts are concentrated on a different area of the county in two year time frames. The Jeannette area was selected as the target area for the pilot project in 2009 and 2010. During that time frame, 395 new households were enrolled in the WCFB Food Pantry Distribution Program through the four Jeannette pantry sites.
In 2011 and 2012, the Mt. Pleasant/Scottdale areas were the focus of WCFB outreach/expansion efforts; an additional 425 households were added to pantry rolls there.
In 2013 and 2014, the New Kensington area was the focus of WCFB outreach/expansion efforts; an additional 573 households were added to pantry rolls in this area.
In 2015 and 2016, outreach /expansion efforts were conducted in the Mon-Valley. Transportation difficulties identified during initial capacity assessments led to a fourth pantry being opened. An additional 401 households were added to pantry rolls in this area.
The Ligonier Area has been selected as the area of focus for 2017 and 2018 outreach/expansion efforts. There are currently three pantries providing food assistance in this region which includes New Florence, Ligonier and Donegal.
Our intention is to raise awareness of the Food Bank and its services. We want people to be aware of the income guidelines for eligibility and where the pantry sites are located. Families may be eligible for help and not even know it. WCFB will be working on developing partnerships through the community to assist in raising awareness and help to increase volunteers at the pantries as participation increases at these sites.
Clearly, there is no immunity to hunger. It affects us all, especially in today’s economic climate. It’s times like these that make WCFB so important to so many people. WCFB is here to provide a helping hand to those in need, whenever they need it; and gratefully welcome the support of all those willing to help their neighbors. WCFB staff is also available to speak to groups and organizations interested in the work that will be done in the Ligonier communities. Please contact Texie Waddell at 724.468.8660 extension 20 or email her at email@example.com.