Filling the Pantries When the Need is the Greatest
Summer time offers thoughts of fun, being outside, and for kids – no homework or school work. For parents, this break in the schedule can be problematic for a variety of reasons. For low-income families, there is another challenge as well.
The free or reduced breakfast and lunch program through the schools provides valuable nutrition and energy for the families and students who qualify. But what happens in the summer, when they are not in school.
Often, those families struggle to put extra food on the table for their children. They rely on the food pantries throughout Bucks County to supplement their nutrition needs all year long, but particularly in the summer.
Dorothy*, a single of mother of three children, is a regular at the Emergency Relief Association Food Pantry in Levittown. She has been coming to the pantry every month for over three years. She was out of work and looking for employment when she began coming to the pantry. She now has regular employment, but her salary doesn’t stretch as far as she needs.
She is grateful and appreciative of the pantry and always thanks the pantry volunteers. She often mentions how the pantry makes it possible for her to continue to feed her family. With three children, the summer without the school breakfast and lunch program makes things even tougher.
In addition, the summer is the time when our food pantries are their emptiest. That is why projects such as United Way’s Bucks Knocks Out Hunger are so important. The program helps stock the pantries with pre-packaged, nutritious meals to supplement the regular donations the pantries receive from the Bucks County Opportunity Council’s food program and Rolling Harvest Food Rescue.
The combination of all three programs helps serve families when they need it the most. The Bucks Knocks Out Hunger meals are easy to prepare and fortified to help produce a balance diet. The Bucks County Opportunity Council’s (BCOC) food program works with local businesses like Wegman’s and Applegate Natural & Organic Meats to provide regular products to the pantries.
BCOC also has a partnership with Delaware Valley University through the Hope of the Harvest Garden which produces fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the warmer months. Furthermore, Rolling Harvest Food Rescue works with local famers throughout the county to glean extra edible produce to increase the supply of fresh foods to the pantries.
Dorothy*, our mother of three, has remarked very positively about the selection of fresh produce the ERA pantry has been able to offer recently. This produce and all the food from the pantries makes it possible for her to spend her money on other necessities. But these programs do not exist without the help of Bucks County residents.
So find a way you can help. Volunteer on July 24, 2015 at Bucks Knocks Out Hunger at Delaware Valley University. Or spend one Tuesday morning at the Hope of the Harvest Garden as a BCOC volunteer. Don’t have the time this summer to help, any donation will help to www.bucks.org/bkohunger, www.bcoc.org, or www.rollingharvest.org.
*Name was changed for reasons of confidentiality.