As summer is fast approaching, the Westmoreland County Food Bank (WCFB) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) are again facing a decrease in funds and supplies to feed those in need in our community. During the summer months, the demand for food increases because children are not receiving nourishment at school and parents look for ways to adequately feed their families.
For thirty-seven years, the Westmoreland County Food Bank has sponsored the Summer Food Service Program. For eight weeks each summer, free breakfasts and lunches are served to disadvantaged children at approximately sixteen sites around Westmoreland County. While the food bank contracts with an outside food vendor to prepare and deliver the meals, WCFB recruits, trains, and monitors site supervisors, orders and tracks meals, tracks participants, insures compliance with food safety and food handling regulations, and performs other administrative duties such as budgeting and billing.
In 2018, the WCFB Summer Food Program provided over 10,100 meals to an average of 304 needy children a day at 15 sites across Westmoreland County. Without this program, many of these children would not have received proper nutrition during the summer months. Supplies and funds are needed again this year as WCFB prepares for the Summer Food Service Program. In order to provide this program, basic cleaning supplies and necessities are needed to meet United States Department of Agriculture standards.
“Supply drives are always welcome and can be done very easily, and they don’t take a lot of time and are greatly appreciated,” stated Jennifer Miller, Chief Executive Officer of WCFB. “Without help from the community to provide these necessities, the Summer Food Service Program operates with a deficit which the Food Bank cannot afford,” stated Mrs. Miller. Conducting supply drives are great service projects for schools, church groups, service groups, and families. Supply drives are also ideal for students that are required to conduct community service in order to graduate high school. The Westmoreland County Food Bank relies heavily upon the community for donations of non-perishable food items and non-food items.
Currently, there are 16 tentative SFSP sites located in Monessen, Jeannette, New Kensington, Greensburg, Irwin, and Latrobe. Eligible community sponsors are non-profit organizations, schools, and local governments. This summer the SFSP is in need of such items as garbage bags, paper towels, dish detergent, multi-purpose cleaner, liquid hand soap, hand sanitizer, and empty spray bottles for mixing sanitizing solution. “Our major need this year is garbage bags. It sounds odd to ask for garbage bags, but it is a requirement of the USDA that these items be at the sites for food safety,” stated Director of Programs, Michelle Heller. “In years past, we had a donor provide garbage bags, but that source is not available to us any longer.” Garbage bags must be 32-gallon heavy-duty bags and are preferred to be thirty count or more. “At this time we need about 200 boxes in order to comply and operate the program properly,” continued Heller.
The Summer Food Service Program is funded by the USDA and is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. It is the largest federal resource available for local programs that combine mealtime with recreational and educational activities. The limited funding received for the program provides for the food and administration of the program but does not provide adequately for necessary supplies.
The Westmoreland County Food Bank feeds over 16,000 people each month through the Emergency Food Distribution Program; of that 16,000, nearly 5,000 are children.
For more information on how you can help, please contact Michelle Heller at 724.468.8660 extension 25 or by emailing email@example.com. For more information on the Westmoreland County Food Bank, please visit their web site at www.westmorelandfoodbank.org.
About Westmoreland County Food Bank
The Westmoreland County Food Bank serves over 31,000 area residents each year including 9,300 children and 3,410 seniors. WCFB currently has 60 member agencies in their network of emergency feeding sites. Of those, 43 are food pantries in which low-income consumers are able to access emergency food assistance throughout the month. Last year (2018), the Food Bank distributed over 6 million pounds of food. 50% of WCFB’s food comes from the federal and state governments and the remaining 50% from local donations, food drives, and Feeding America.