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Hillendale Farms donates 3,000 dozen eggs to the Westmoreland food bank

Mary Pickels
| Thursday, April 26, 2012, 11:46 p.m.

Standing near pallets holding 3,600 dozen eggs donated to the Westmoreland County Food Bank Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Marlene Kozak expressed her delight with a pun.

"We're very egg-cited," she said, grinning.

"We are really grateful that we benefit from this," Kozak added.

Weeks before Easter, Hillandale Farms made its third annual donation to the food bank, delivering the 3,600 dozen eggs -- 43,200 eggs -- to the facility near Delmont.

"Protein is always the hardest food category for our food bank to acquire, and a donation of this magnitude will go a long way in helping to end hunger here at home," Kozak said.

For the third year in a row, United Egg Producers and Feeding America teamed up to provide more than 11 million eggs to food banks nationwide.

The food bank serves about 7,000 households, or 15,000 clients, each month.

Approximately $7,000 is budgeted each month for eggs. While that figure fluctuates, it typically provides one dozen eggs per household monthly.

The donation amounted to a one-time savings of more than $3,000, Kozak said.

"This time of year, with donations a little lower, coming off the holidays, it's a really big help," said Jennifer Miller, food bank development director.

The food bank's operating budget for 2010 is $2.8 million, up from $2.6 million last year, Kozak said.

Funding has been stagnant in recent years, she said, and about 50 percent of the budget comes from fundraising.

Meanwhile, the prices of food and gasoline have risen.

And the need is increasing.

"We saw about a 10 percent increase in 2009 over 2008," Kozak said. "We believe a lot of it has to do with people losing their jobs."

A 2007 study determined that about 40,000 additional people in Westmoreland County qualify for the food bank's services. A pilot project was launched in the Jeannette area, resulting in another 191 households -- 400 residents -- being served.

In 2011, the project may expand into the Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale areas, Kozak said.

Expanding the food bank's services means absorbing more costs, she said.

So a donation like Hillandale's is particulary welcome, coming so close to Easter, staff members said.

"We're proud to offer our help and support when our community needs it now more than ever," said Gary Bethel of Hillandale Farms.

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