Westmoreland County Food Bank
Westmoreland County Food Bank
Tries to End Hunger
by Karen Fetter
Hungry people live in Westmoreland County and the Westmoreland County Food
Bank (WCFB) tries to reach out to each and every one of them. Though able
to feed over 15,000 people per month, 4,000 of whom are children, the Food Bank
still needs help in so many ways.
The WCFB is a private, not-for-profit organization that supplies food to hungry
people through a network of food assistance programs in Westmoreland County.
This program works in conjunction with food stamps to help sustain families
longer. There is no charge to be enrolled in the program.
Jennifer Miller, Development Director of WCFB, says that two ways people can
help are by getting more volunteers and by creating more pantries. There
are still 12,000 people who are hungry in Westmoreland County and our goal is to
feed all of them, said Jennifer.
This is a daunting task, especially with funding going down and cost of fuel and
food going up. Because of the dramatic decrease in food and funds from the
USDA and the State Food Program, the WCFBs program went from having 7 million
pounds of food to distribute to only 5 million pounds of food, almost a 30%
Jennifer is excited about two programs currently under way to promote WCFB and
to make people more aware of the program. One program is Operation Fresh
Express (OFE). This mobile pantry will carry perishable food items to
those in need throughout Westmoreland County. The program will help
eliminate waste that occurs when dealing with perishable items that are donated
In 2007, over 386,000 pounds of perishable food was provided to over 6,800 needy
individuals through OFE. More than 2,000 were children and over 700 were
seniors. Without OFE, much of this nutritious food would be discarded due
to lack of refrigeration. Each week, groups and individuals sponsor OFE
distributions, where from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of perishable food (frozen,
dairy products, and fresh produce) is directly distributed to needy families by
WCFB staff and volunteers at sites throughout Westmoreland County.
You can help with a sponsorship for 2008 for only $350. If you would like to
volunteer at or sponsor an OFE, please contact Deana at 724.468.8660 ext. 29 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. The Food Bank has received a grant through
the Pittsburgh 250th Sprout Foundation for 2008 to expand this program in the
Monessen, Greensburg, and Mt. Pleasant areas where they are lacking
Another way WCFB is trying to gain more awareness is through a monthly radio
show on WCNS in Latrobe. The show will air on the third Saturday of each
month from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The first show is set to air in February
with Jennifer as the host.
Of each dollar donated to WCFB, 97 cents goes to food and food programs. WCFB
also acquires food through local donations and government food assistance
programs (State Food Purchase Grant and The Emergency Food Assistance Program).
This food is then sent to provide food to meal programs, soup kitchens, food
pantries, emergency shelters, and child care programs.
We want to educate the public on the WCFB because a lot of working poor people
dont come forth because they arent aware that they could be helped, said
Jennifer. Whether it is to assist in addition to food stamps or to just
help families who are hungry, this program is designed to end hunger in
Westmoreland County. Each person signs a self-declaration of need to
become eligible. If a person qualifies for food stamps they also can
qualify as a client for the food pantry.
Jennifer says another goal of the WCFB is to develop new pantries in certain
areas, especially in the rural, more mountainous areas of the county. The
WCFB is looking for people who are dedicated once a month to help people in
Our goal is to end hunger, said Jennifer. We are trying to become
creative to get people to hear our pleas.
Cash donations are extremely helpful because the WCFB can buy in bulk and
receive wholesale prices. Just $1.00 can buy 7 pounds of food, which is
enough to make five meals. Jennifer adds that the operations manager
creates new packages each month for clients so there is a variety. People
can then make different meals and try new foods. The food bank does not
just want to end hunger, but it cares about the food that it gives each person
just as if they were able to purchase it on their own.
There are three major food drives each year among many smaller ones that greatly
support the WCFB. One is the partnership with the Boy Scouts that will
take place April 5. The Scouts spend the day collecting grocery items from
houses and stands at certain locations. Last year they collected 36,000
pounds of food. Another is the Fall Food Share Program. The
Westmoreland County Food Bank works with Giant Eagle to collect food for its
clients. Often times, people will take advantage of the buy one get one
offers and other large quantity sales and donate the extra item or items to the
food bank. There is also the Mail Carriers food drive. Local mail
carriers distribute flyers to houses all over Westmoreland County asking people
to leave grocery items on their front porch that they wish to donate. Then the
carriers come by to pick up the donations while delivering the mail.
If you would like to be a volunteer or to make a donation, please contact the
WCFB at their main office in Delmont at 724-468-8660 or visit
Volunteer or to make a donation
to the Westmoreland Food Bank
Contact the WCFB at their
main office in Delmont at
724-468-8660 or visit