Scottdale company offers challenge grant for Westmoreland food bank
Food Bank CEO Jennifer Miller cited that number at Thursday’s Annual Partnership Luncheon to highlight the importance of partners — agencies, volunteers and donors.
“Our partners are not taken for granted. We cannot do what we do without you,” Miller said. “Partnership is of the utmost importance.”
Among the Food Bank’s partners are 63 local agencies, 7,000 volunteers and 40,000 food and funding donors, she said.
The Food Bank used the luncheon to announce its 2019 Partner of the Year — Penn Line Service Inc., Scottdale. The award is given annually to an individual or organization that best exemplifies selfless giving to the Food Bank.
Penn Line has partnered with the Food Bank since 2009 and began a matching gift program in 2015. This year, for Hunger Action Month, the company is offering a $5,000 challenge grant. On Sept. 28, the “Day 2 Don8,” Penn Line will match up to $5,000 of funds donated on that day.
Keynote speaker Cheryl Cook, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture deputy secretary, noted that the Food Bank distributed 6 million pounds of food in 2018, 2 million pounds of which were fruits and vegetables.
Westmoreland County farms donated 19,743 pounds of produce to the Food Bank in 2018, according to the 2018 annual report.
Cook said farms and farmers are an important part of the solution to “food insecurity.”
“In Pennsylvania, we have three times as many farmers over the age of 65 as we have under the age of 35. That’s not a good place to be if you want to talk about food security and how we feed ourselves as a nation,” she said.
Cook said Pennsylvania lost 10% of its farms between 2012 and 2017. That number dropped from 59,309 in 2012 to 53,157 in 2017, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.
Cook said the agriculture department addresses the issue of food security through four questions: Is food available at any price? Is food affordable? Is the food safe? Is the food nutritious?
“There are one in eight Pennsylvanians who are considered food insecure based on affordability – who aren’t always sure where their next meal is coming from,” she said.
In addition to the “Day 2 Don8,” the Food Bank is observing Hunger Action Month with a display in the Westmoreland County Courthouse courtyard for the entire month of September.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .