Whitehall-Coplay Press

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Fighting Hunger: Pantry, food bank here to help battle food insecurity in area

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 by SHARI NOCTOR in Opinion

Whitehall Food Pantry and Coplay Recreation & Welfare Association Food Bank provide much-needed food for our residents. As you have heard me say many times before, no one in this country, as rich as we are, should ever be hungry. This really bothers me and so many others.

Food insecurity in America was almost wiped out due to provisions President Lyndon Johnson’s administration put into law back in the 1960s. Sadly, 50 years later, we still have food insecurity. I’ll get off my soapbox and save this story for another day.

Whitehall residents can obtain food from Whitehall Food Pantry by showing proof of residency and a photo ID and meet state income eligibility. The pantry is open 6-8 p.m. every Monday and is located at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 3900 Mechanicsville Road, Whitehall, on the left, rear side of the church building. Residents may receive food once a month and should make an appointment with Doreen Wagner, director of the pantry, at 484-246-5715.

The Whitehall pantry is run by a coalition of churches: St. Stephen’s Episcopal, Faith Evangelical Lutheran, St. John’s United Church of Christ, St. John’s UCC, Mickleys, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran and First Presbyterian of Hokendauqua. Many volunteers are needed behind the scenes to make this mission a success.

The pantry gets food from Second Harvest, Walmart, Weis, Bonefish Grill, Chick-fil-A and Entenmann’s. The local Boy Scouts and the USPS each organize a food drive once a year, providing additional needed food.

Please do not donate open boxes, outdated items or damaged/dented cans. The donations are sorted, and these items are discarded.

Many local churches, civic organizations and residents provide food and monetary donations on a regular basis throughout the year, which is essential to the pantry. Food items needed include coffee, pasta or noodles, canned vegetables, pasta meals (i.e., Hamburger Helper, etc.), boxed mashed potatoes, canned fruit, canned soup, cereal, pasta sauce and large bottles of juice for monthly distribution. Items may be dropped off at the pantry 5-6 p.m. Mondays.

David Cool, agency relations coordinator at Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley & Northeast PA, provided the Whitehall pantry data from July 2018 through January 2019. On average, the Whitehall pantry has served 193 adults, 106 seniors and 73 children a month. These numbers would be much higher if more residents had transportation to get to the pantry or it was open at a time when the residents are not working. Yes, many food-insecure people are the working poor.

“Second Harvest Food Bank needs volunteers every month to help with packing, sorting or ‘free Friday,’” Cool said.

For more information, call 484-287-4015 and ask for Ida.

Second Harvest also provides senior boxes, known as “sunshine boxes,” which are available to Whitehall and Coplay residents. The Whitehall pantry serves about 20 senior boxes each month. To qualify, a resident needs to be age 60 or older and fall under the 130-percent poverty level (income — yearly: $15,782; monthly: $1,316; weekly: $304).

These boxes are in addition to the monthly pantry food. The boxes usually include four cans of vegetables, two large bottles of juice, two cans of fruit, one meat (canned chicken, beef stew or chili), a 2.5-pound block of cheese, two shelf-stable milks, one peanut butter, two boxes of cereal and one pasta or rice. Dry milk is provided six times a year.

Coplay residents are also encouraged to take advantage of this program by going through the Whitehall pantry. For more information, contact Renee Gombert at 484-358-6722.

Jodi Beckett manages Coplay Recreation & Welfare Association Food Bank at the municipal building, 98 S. Fourth St. The food bank is open to Coplay residents 8:30-10 a.m. the second Tuesday of each month. Proof of residency is required when applying for food. Staples such as spaghetti sauce, small peanut butter/jelly, crackers, coffee and any type of paper products are appreciated. Call Beckett at 610-262-0928 with questions.

Food and monetary donations would be greatly appreciated at both the Whitehall pantry and the Coplay food bank. A big thank you goes out to Wagner, Beckett, all the volunteers and the public who donate much time, talent and treasures to help feed our neighbors. The recipients are also very thankful to all of you.