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Westmoreland

Westmoreland farm community provides holiday feast for county's homeless

Joe Napsha
| Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 9:06 p.m.

Greensburg homeless shelter residents Beth Briggs and her friend, Sueann Hayden, were amazed at the generosity of those who donated food and volunteered to cook and serve a sumptuous holiday meal at a city church Tuesday for those less fortunate.

“It's a really nice surprise. When you are down and out, this kind of restores your faith in humanity,” Briggs said as she waited to get her supper at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Greensburg.

Briggs and Hayden, Welcome Home Shelter residents, were among about 80 residents of Greensburg area shelters and clients of Westmoreland Community Action, Head Start and Feeding the Spirit, who dined on a hearty farm-to-table meal that included turkey, pulled pork, creamed corn, potatoes, baked apples, bread and dessert.

A crew of volunteers had collected the food, then baked and cooked it and served it.

“I was shocked at how nice it was, with the food and the (decorated) tables,” said Hayden, a former Monessen resident. “They (organizers) will get blessed in the end.”

The meal was the brainchild of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency in Hempfield, said Amanda McDivitt, planning specialist for Westmoreland Community Action.

Community Action and other social service agencies provided the clients who received the meals.

“We're fortunate enough to be able to pull something like this together,” said Tay Waltenbaugh, chief executive officer of Community Action.

The Farm Service Agency, which works with the agriculture community in providing technical assistance to farmers, has helped needy families through homeless shelters over past holidays, said Danielle Dwan, a USDA program technician.

“We like to do something to give back to the community for the holidays,” Dwan said.

The meal gave the Farm Service Agency an opportunity to show people “where their food comes from,” Dwan said. Those at the meal had the opportunity to take home leftovers.

Another of those benefiting from the generosity of the county's agriculture community was Cher McNamara, a Greensburg homeless shelter resident.

Sitting down to a multi-course meal with plenty of food was a far cry from her circumstances last year at this time, when McNamara said she was homeless because a back injury prevented her from working.

“When I get back on my feet,” McNamara said, “I definitely will sponsor a meal.”

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

Karen Kuhns, an area specialist with rural development for the USDA, serves creamed corn and broccoli casserole to Paul Svetahor, of Greensburg on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 during a holiday farm-to-table dinner. It was hosted by Westmoreland Community Action at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Greensburg. The dinner was created from food that came from the USDA through the Westmoreland County Penn State Extension.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Karen Kuhns, an area specialist with rural development for the USDA, serves creamed corn and broccoli casserole to Paul Svetahor, of Greensburg on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 during a holiday farm-to-table dinner. It was hosted by Westmoreland Community Action at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Greensburg. The dinner was created from food that came from the USDA through the Westmoreland County Penn State Extension.
Davion Williams, 11, lifts a fork of food to exclaim to his mother how good it tastes during a holiday farm-to-table dinner last week at Greensburg's First United Methodist Church downtown. The dinner was hosted by the Westmoreland Community Action.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Davion Williams, 11, lifts a fork of food to exclaim to his mother how good it tastes during a holiday farm-to-table dinner last week at Greensburg's First United Methodist Church downtown. The dinner was hosted by the Westmoreland Community Action.
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