THE WESTMORELAND COUNTY FOOD BANK KICKS-OFF HUNGER ACTION MONTH AT ANNUAL AWARDS LUNCHEON
On a beautiful 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, Development Director, of the Westmoreland County Food Bank about the wonderful attendance to the annual event.
The Keynote Speaker for the day’s festivities was Jordan Pallitto, Vice President with The Hill Group, specializes in strategy development and business planning across sectors. He is a Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) Standards for Excellence Trained and Approved Consultant. Prior to joining The Hill Group, Jordan worked extensively with Pittsburgh Public Schools to help develop a comprehensive plan for the new Pittsburgh 6-12 Science and Technology Academy. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of The Consortium for Public Education, on the boards of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County (now part of the Pittsburgh Foundation), Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations, the Hempfield Area Education Foundation Funds, and on the advisory board for the Robert Morris University Health Services Administration program. He is a graduate of Leadership Development Initiative XV, a program of Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc. He also serves as adjunct staff and lecturer at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University. Jordan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Allegheny College and a Master of Science degree from the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University.
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 the Rostraver Food Pantry. The Rostraver Food Pantry joined Westmoreland County Food Bank as a Partner Agency in January 1997. For nearly 20 years, this pantry, sponsored by the Belle Vernon Area Ministerium, has distributed food to needy individuals and families in Belle Vernon and surrounding area at the Fells United Methodist Church located in Rostraver.
“On the third Thursday of each month, approximately 180 households enter the church and report to their assigned station inside,” said Gina Colosimo, WCFB Agency Liaison. “This method of distribution through individual church-sponsored stations is quite unique and a great alternative to long waiting lines and within an hour all pantry participants are served.” Dick Currie, the pantry’s coordinator is very detail oriented, thorough, and extremely organized. “He is a pleasure to work with and always goes the extra mile to ensure the pantry operates efficiently and according to WCFB regulations. He and the many dedicated volunteers of this pantry truly care about the needy in their community,” continued Ms. Colosimo.
The Belle Vernon Area Ministerium is also a sponsor of the Operation Fresh Express (OFE) Program each year. Mr. Currie takes responsibility for securing a date to hold the OFE distribution and manages everything from volunteers needed that day to communication with the Mayor of Belle Vernon to have the street blocked off to ensure everyone’s safety. “The Rostraver Food Pantry is truly an Outstanding Agency and we are very proud to have them as our Partner Agency in the fight to end hunger in Westmoreland County,” said Texie Waddell, WCFB Director of Agency Services.
The award for Outstanding Donor is Turner Dairy Farms of Penn Hills. The motto of Charles G. Turner, founder of Turner Dairy Farms, “Perfect Products, Perfect Service. Treat People Right,” remains an integral part of the company’s ethics to this day. “We can speak about the quality of their product, because it’s so good,” stated Jennifer Miller, WCFB Director of Development, “but we can truly speak about the ‘treating people right’ portion of their motto.” Through the Fill a Glass with Hope® program, which provides fluid milk to the consumers at our food pantries, they have been working very closely with Chuck and Steve Turner, and Jennifer Turner Wigton. “Each month they work with us for the pilot program of Fill a Glass with Hope®, as well as provide donated product for our pantry distribution sites,” continued Mrs. Miller. To date, they have contributed 32,834 pounds of donated product. Now, they have committed to helping promote the Fill a Glass with Hope® project to assist in raising more funds to provide more milk to more agencies and ultimately support the nutritional wellbeing of WCFB consumers.
Nine 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, and Gail Macioce. Since the second year that the award was given, the prior year recipient has the honor of passing it on to the next, Gail Macioce was proud to present this year’s premiere award to Mr. Chuck Jarrell.
Chuck Jarrell of Irwin has been a true advocate for the Westmoreland County Food Bank, as well as, other food banks throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. He recently retired as a letter carrier for many years. He still spends time at the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) office in Pittsburgh, a coordinator for the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive for Branch 84. He has taken on the task of increasing the amount of food received during the annual food drive, by promoting the use of bags for marketing for the past two years. In the past, only a postcard would market the drive, paid for by the NALC. After reading articles across the nation about food increases due to the use of bags, he was determined to make it happen here in our community.
He has spent countless hours personally soliciting financial support from community organizations to sponsor the bags. He shares his own story of how he faced hunger as a child and knows the challenges that needy families face day after day. Last year, he was able to double the amount of food that was brought in by having enough sponsorship for plastic bags to be mailed to 500,000 households throughout the region.
For more information about the Westmoreland County Food Bank, please visit their new and improved website www.westmorelandfoodbank.org or call 724.468.8660.
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 62 member agencies in their network of emergency feeding sites. Of those, 44 are food pantries in which low income consumers are able to access emergency food assistance throughout the month. Last year (2015), the Food Bank distributed over 7.5 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. Administrative and fundraising costs account for 5% of the Food Bank’s operating budget.