On a very warm day at the beginning of September, over 100 partners of the Westmoreland County Food Bank (WCFB) filed into the Delmont warehouse to help kick-off Hunger Action Month at the annual Partnership Luncheon and Awards event. “This just shows the dedication to the Food Bank and the people we serve,” stated Jennifer Miller, Director of Development of the Westmoreland County Food Bank about the wonderful attendance to the annual event.
The tradition of the Partnership Luncheon is to recognize partners throughout their network who have demonstrated excellence through their donations, their impact on the community, their ability to encourage and motivate others through their activities, and support the mission and vision of WCFB which is to enable all Westmoreland County residents who are hungry or at risk of hunger to have ready access to food.
This year’s Outstanding Agency was St. Agnes, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton & St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry in the North Huntingdon area. This pantry has been a partner of the Food Bank since the very first year in 1982. They have a very dedicated coordinator and volunteers who truly go above and beyond with their food pantry operation in every way. They have worked with a third party entity to move toward electronic data capture and statistic reporting. They have recently installed their own walk in freezer to be sure to have enough freezer storage space for pantry items. They have also recently became an Operation Fresh Express sponsor, and they provide the site and volunteers as well. “They are a great resource for emergency food referrals,” stated Texie Waddell, Director of Agency Relations. “They are always willing to lend a hand whenever it is necessary and needed.” The coordinator Brenda Wilker, is always great at providing additional resource materials to their pantry participants in an attempt to help them on their way to self-reliance.
The award for Outstanding Donor is The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. The Community Foundation provides many avenues of support for the Food Bank and their Development Team – such as the Day of Giving, The Visionaries Grant, trainings, and so much more. The Community Foundation is not only a life line for the Food Bank but for many other agencies and human service organizations throughout our community.
They have established a non-profit network to assist with collaboration among other agencies and it has become a very beneficial entity for the Food Bank to make connection and assist them in making proper referrals to consumers that may be in need of additional services. “They have been a donor and/or grant source for the Food Bank on record since 2001,” stated Randee Eberhardt, Director of Finance. “Since then they have donated or awarded over $170,000 to help feed those in Westmoreland County who may be food insecure.”
Eleven years ago, WCFB awarded the first Partner Award. This award is given to an individual who has exemplified selfless giving not only to the Food Bank, but throughout the community. Past recipients have included Jennifer Miele, Karen Piper, Clarissa Amond, Senator Kim Ward, Maxine Pellis, Kris Hayes, Rosemary Spoljarick, Gail Macioce, Chuck Jarell, and The Visionaries of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. Since the second year that the award was given, the prior year recipient has the honor of passing it on to the next, Jordan Pallitto and Michael Quatrini, Masters of Ceremony for the luncheon and members of The Visionaries were proud to present this year’s premiere award to Ms. Donna Carr, Gamily Assistance Service Specialist for the Pennsylvania National Guard Family Assistance Center. Donna has been instrumental in collaborating with the Food Bank to ensure together we are serving veterans and families throughout Westmoreland County. The Food Bank began the Military Share program in Mt. Pleasant and Donna saw a need to expand into other areas due to an increased need for food and services throughout the County.
While working with local veteran organizations, Donna was able to have the program expand into the New Kensington area and currently the Greensburg area. Donna not only completes enrollment for the program but she discusses any other needs the family may have and refers them to appropriate resources. During the distribution Donna invites groups that work with veterans to have their information readily available when the service members attend the distribution.
With Donna’s hard work this program continues to flourish with future distributions scheduled for September, November, and December of this year. The Food Bank currently serve 192 families and have started a waiting list for those veterans in need. The Food Bank would not be able to form these partnerships alone and Donna works hard to ensure that we are giving back to our veterans that gave for us.
For more information about the Westmoreland County Food Bank, please visit their website www.westmorelandfoodbank.org or call 724.468.8660.