Share This Page

Rainbow continues to shine for hungry

| Sunday, May 13, 2012, 11:46 p.m.
Brandi Terry of Munhall shops for food for her family at the Rainbow Kirchen Food Pantry in Homestead on Thursday, May 10, 2012. In rear left is her nephew Eddie Montgomery of Homestead and volunteer Larry Lewis (in red shirt). Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Jayla Smith of Munhall and her daughter Makhiya, 10, shop for groceries on Thursday in the Rainbow Kitchen Food Pantry in Homestead. In the cart is daughter R'Angel, 17 months. Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review

An online contest has enabled a Homestead nonprofit to continue feeding children in struggling families despite cuts to public funding.

Rainbow Kitchen lost half its funding when statewide cuts to social services forced the Allegheny County Department of Human Services in March to pull a $53,000 grant. Yet its Kids Cafe program wasn't disrupted, thanks to a $45,000 grant through a Starbucks program called "Community Card: Vote. Give. Grow."

"They had to make a hard decision. We know it was not something they wanted to do," Donna Little, Rainbow Kitchen's executive director, said of the county's action. "We were pretty devastated. We're feeding kids. Some of them go to bed hungry."

Around the same time, Little found out about the Starbucks program.

During April, Rainbow Kitchen competed against three other Pennsylvania nonprofits in the online contest. Starbucks chose "nonprofit organizations that are already doing great work to help solve the unique needs of their communities" in each state for the competition, according to the contest site.

For four weeks, supporters could vote for their favorite organization; the group garnering the most votes won the highest amount. Rainbow Kitchen beat out DonorsChoice.org, which received $25,000; Jumpstart for Young Children, which got $15,000; and Opportunity Finance Network, which received $15,000.

Rainbow Kitchen provides children with balanced meals on weekdays all year, and delivers to summer camps and low-income housing complexes. It serves families, elderly and disabled individuals, and those who are homeless, unemployed or underemployed.

The Kitchen helps feed 535 households a month -- a number that has doubled over the past two years. "We are seeing a lot of new faces," Little said.

In addition to food assistance, the Kitchen offers people help with immediate or crisis needs, case management and other services. Its annual budget is $370,000.

Winning the Starbucks contest allows the Kitchen to continue Kids Cafe "with no reduction in services," Little said.

That's good news for Courtney Melvin, 23, of West Mifflin. She receives meals daily for her son, Shaiqur, 1.

"It's very good food," she said. "Where I live, there are a lot of kids not getting a good meal at home. They really do help the kids."

Most people served by Rainbow Kitchen live in Homestead, West Homestead or Munhall. Among the 18,000 people living in those areas, 35 percent of families with children live at or below poverty level, according to Rainbow Kitchen. Half of households rely on Social Security or Supplemental Security Income.

Rainbow Kitchen sponsors a monthly food pantry, offering donated canned and dry goods to families from a grocery store in the building's basement.

"I really think it's good that someone cares," said Jayla Smith, 27, of Homestead, while shopping at the pantry with her three children. "They do a really good job. I'm glad it's available."

How to help

Rainbow Kitchen is at 135 E. Ninth Ave., Homestead. To volunteer or donate food or money, call 412-464-1892 or visit www.rainbowkitchen.org.<

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.