Westmoreland County Food Bank begins outreach program
Nearly three-fourths of qualified households in four northeastern Westmoreland County communities are not receiving the food assistance for which they're eligible, according to county food bank estimates.
Westmoreland County Food Bank officials hope to change that through a two-year outreach effort that begins this month at food pantries that serve New Kensington, Arnold, Lower Burrell and Upper Burrell.
Out of nearly 4,000 eligible households, about 915 families visit the pantries monthly, according to food bank data.
“We want to make sure that our mission is being met,” said Texie Waddell, the food bank's director of agency services and programs. “If there are people who aren't able to put enough food on their table through their own means, we want to make sure that they know what the food bank is, what it does and how they can get help.”
The outreach effort stems from a 2007 study in which the food bank determined there were 40,000 people in its service area who qualified for, but were not receiving, food assistance.
That was in addition to the 15,000 the food bank already served.
Following the study, the Westmoreland County Food Bank aligned its outreach plan with that used by Feeding America, a national nonprofit dedicated to reducing hunger in the United States.
More recent data estimates there were nearly 44,000 “food insecure” individuals in Westmoreland County in 2010, the most recent data available from Feeding America.
Food insecurity is defined as someone who sometimes has to choose between buying food and paying for other basic needs.
“Our numbers increase monthly with the economic conditions as they are,” said Larry Kupec, co-coordinator of the food pantry at St. Margaret Mary Church in Lower Burrell.
That's a sign that outreach efforts are needed, he said, because for as many who get help, there are many others that don't.
“There are more people who don't have the resources,” said Kupec, who runs the pantry with his wife, Rosalie. “We're serving a vital need in the community.”
When the outreach effort started in 2009-10, the food bank focused on the Jeannette area and added nearly 400 new households. Then in 2011-12, an additional 425 households in the Mt. Pleasant area began receiving food assistance following outreach there.
The food bank will work with its pantries in the Alle-Kiski Valley to make sure they're operating efficiently and can handle an increase in people, Waddell said.
“To make sure we have the food we need to serve them, we've been doing food drives and fundraising,” she said.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Kensington man killed in North Buffalo crash
- Tarentum Bridge falcon defends turf as eagles scout nesting locations
- Puppy, pals come to rescue of Lower Burrell firefighters
- Saxonburg machine shop 3 generations strong
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Small Business Saturday a boon to Alle-Kiski Valley merchants
- Christmas parade gets warm welcome in Saxonburg
- South Butler students push composting as a way to slow food waste
- CNG station approved for Harmar
- At-home schooling on snow days far from reality
- Springdale Township neighbors at odds over drone