Nazareth Area Food Bank Fighting Hunger... Feeding Hope



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Lafayette College Athletes C.A.R.E. 'Ball4Hunger'

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on April 20, 2015 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (490)

Click on to view a brief report and photo gallery of the "Ball4Hunger" basketball clinic conducted recently by members of the Lafayette College men's and women's basketball teams.


For the third year in a row, Lafayette student athletes ran clinics for young people in the Easton area to teach them the fundamentals of popular sports. The first two years were run by members of the Leopards' men's and women's soccer teams and this year the basketball teams contributed their skills and expertise.


Admission to each of the clinics was canned goods and -- for the third year in a row -- Athletes C.A.R.E. donated a huge amount of non-perishables to the Nazareth Area Food Bank.


We are truly grateful to the Athletes C.A.R.E. chapter at Lafayette for its members' commitment to help us address hunger. 

Express-Times article on Lehigh Valley food pantries

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on November 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (298)

Lehigh Valley, New Jersey food pantries continue to struggle following food stamp reductions


By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | The Express-Times

on November 23, 2014 at 7:00 AM, updated November 25, 2014 at 11:59 AM



Food pantries and food banks that help feed the Lehigh Valley and northwest New Jersey's hungry say thousands continue to grapple with reduced federal funding for food stamps, which is making it difficult to keep shelves full throughout the holiday season.

Last year, those who qualified for food stamps had faced a reduction after a temporary benefit from the 2009 federal stimulus expired. It meant a 5 percent drop in the $80 billion-a-year federal program and about 20 fewer meals a month for a family of four, according to Feeding America, which makes up the largest network of food banks in the United States.

Throughout the next decade, another $8 billion is projected to be cut to food stamps after the U.S. Congress passed the Agricultural Act of 2014.

That's troubling to food pantry and food bank directors, who say ever since the cuts they've been playing catch-up to try to meet the increased demand for food.

"Every week, I apply for a family whose wage-earner was laid off some time ago and either has not found another job or has found work -- but at a lower wage than they were earning before their layoff," said Kathryn Hoffman, supplemental nutrition assistance program outreach coordinator for Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania.

"And the cost of rent, food, health care, transportation and utilities does not decrease, so lower- to middle-class families in our area and all over the country are struggling."

In Pennsylvania, 1.8 million people receive food stamps and an estimated 87 percent of those households include a child, an elderly person or a person with a disability, Hoffman said. That includes 8 percent of the population in Northampton County receiving food stamps and another 10 percent in Lehigh County receiving food stamps.

Hoffman fears the cuts could mean some people deciding whether to pay their mortgage or put food on the table.

"The second cut to food stamps, though smaller due to the anti-hunger SNAP advocates in Congress, will still hurt," she said.

'Getting by'

The Rev. Frank Fowler, pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Hackettstown, said the church's pantry has been having a difficult time meeting an increased demand for food.

As a result, the church already has canceled its annual Christmas drive after seeing a record turnout for Thanksgiving baskets. Both monetary and food donations have dwindled this year, coupled with the tough economy and food stamp reduction.

"We are just getting by," Fowler said.

The church in September had provided food for a record 1,300 people and exceeded that record in October, serving another 1,400 people. In the first week of November, 151 families had already requested food -- an increase of 20 percent, Fowler said.

The church had planned to hand out 450 Thanksgiving meal baskets on Friday.

Ellen Potter, who runs the 3-year-old Easton Area Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry with her husband, Dennis, said she has seen an estimated 20 percent increase in those in need this year over last year.

"There are people laid-off, those out of work," she said. "About a third to half of our clients work, but some work part-time with no benefits and others even work two part-time jobs with no benefits."

NORWESCAP Food Bank Director Helene Meissner said an estimated 4,200 food baskets filled with turkeys and fixings were distributed this year for families for Thanksgiving. She expects the Phillipsburg-based organization to have to collect for another 400 baskets at Christmas.

In the past year, the food bank that services Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex counties provided 2.2 million pounds of food to 120 charities. In recent years, major national donors, which include several food manufacturers, have pulled out, making it difficult for the organization to keep shelves stocked, Meissner said.

She said local donors have been the saving grace.

"It's been bad when there's less coming through and we find ourselves having to purchase more food -- that's a real budget-buster," Meissner said. "We really never know what we're going to get until the truck pulls in."

Diane Elliott, executive director at New Bethany Ministries in Bethlehem, also is feeling the crunch.

This year, there has been an increase of 30 percent more food baskets than last year for the elderly. Senior citizens, Eliott said, are already on fixed incomes and are struggling with the food stamp reduction.

New Bethany needs 400 Thanksgiving turkeys this year, and to date, only has received 200 turkeys and minimal fixings to go along with the meals. Elliott fears the organization won't be able to meet the same need after Thanksgiving.

"We've seen a huge increase," Elliott said. "And after Thanksgiving, people don't realize we are still in need."

Meeting the demand

Nazareth Area Food Bank Director Jim Byrnes said reliance on donors is key.

Major supporters of the food bank include the Nazareth Ministerium, a decades-old group of area church pastors and their congregations; several Boy Scout troops across the Nazareth area; and schools and civic groups.

Nazareth-area Scouts participate in a national collection each year, which helps stock the shelves of the food bank. That collection is the largest influx of food the food bank receives, Brynes said. This year, Scouts contributed 12,000 pounds of food.

The food benefits 330 families and individuals with two grocery bags for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"We rely entirely on donations of food and dollars," Byrnes said.

Food bank patrons in Nazareth also have been feeling the food stamp cuts, he said, noting many can't find full-time employment with benefits. On top of that, prices for subsidized lunches have increased in the Nazareth Area School District.

"There's a trend toward part-time jobs and that means no benefits, minimum wage or a little bit better," Byrnes said. "For young families, in particular, that makes it harder for them to make their ends meet when they are paying for their kids' medical, clothing, rent and fuel for keeping the place warm. Food tends to fall off the edge."

Ann McManus, director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania, said participation at emergency pantries nearly tripled in the last 12 years from about 17,000 in 2002 to 48,000 this year. The organization warehouses food for about 200 agencies and shelters across six Pennsylvania counties.

"We're hopefully optimistic that the generosity of our donors will help cover the needs of our neighbors," McManus said.

But Nancy Walters of Forks Township, who formed the Easton Hunger Coalition in April, said there also needs to be community outreach to help alleviate hunger. The organization helps 11 food pantries in the Easton area with a main goal of spreading awareness.

"We have a strong group working on advocacy because without advocacy for change, we will continue to rely on emergency food distribution -- which is not the long-term answer -- but is of course a necessity," she said.



Find out more about area food banks:

Easton Area Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry: 610-253-3553, ext. 50.

Nazareth Area Food Bank: 610-365-8869 or

New Bethany Ministries Food Bank in Bethlehem: 610-691-5602, ext. 34 or

NORWESCAP Food Bank: 908-454-4322 or

Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania in Allentown: 610-434-0875 or

Trinity United Methodist Church Lords Pantry in Hackettstown: 908-852-3020.


• The Easton Area Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, 841 Washington St., makes food available to families from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month. There is a need for cold cereal, pasta, jelly, tuna fish and hearty soups. Since most clients rely on food stamps, which can only be used for food products, Potter said there often is a need for soaps, paper products, toiletries and laundry detergent.

• Food from the Nazareth Area Food Bank is distributed on the second Tuesday and following Wednesday of every month and by appointment at the food bank, 529 S. Main St. Most-needed items include peanut butter and jelly, baked beans, cans of tuna fish and boxes of macaroni and cheese.

• At New Bethany Ministries, 333 W. Fourth St., Bethlehem, Thanksgiving baskets are distributed by appointment. Donations are accepted 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Most-needed items include mashed potato mix, stuffing, gravy, brown sugar, cranberry sauce, pies and, more generally, peanut butter, canned vegetables, canned meats, macaroni and cheese boxes, instant rice, soups, cereals, pasta and pudding, as well as toiletries and baby items. Single bed blankets and pillows also are needed.

• At NORWESCAP, 201 N. Broad St., Phillipsburg, food is distributed to various agencies across Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex counties. Donations are accepted 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Friday and Saturday. Most-needed items include beef stew cans, peanut butter, soups, chili cans, pasta, canned fruits and vegetables and hams, turkeys and small chickens.

• At Trinity United Methodist Church Lords Pantry, 213 Main St., Hackettstown, food is distributed from 9 a.m to noon Monday to Thursday. Items needed include canned meats, peanut butter, pasta boxes and canned vegetables.



Express-Times feature article on Betty Huth

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on June 16, 2014 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (149)

The Express-Times published a feature article about the NAFB dedicating its distribution room in honor of longtime former director and board of director member Betty Huth.  The article can be viewed by clicking on the link below and the fulltext appears below that.


Nazareth woman recognized for decades
of volunteer work at food bank


By Pamela Sroka-Holtzmann, The Express-Times, June 16, 2014, Page A-5


When Elizabeth "Betty" Huth started volunteering for the Nazareth Area Food Bank more than two decades ago, it was run out of a church closet.


The food pantry has gone from serving 15 people back then to more than 300 today out of a 52,000-square-foot building on Main Street in Nazareth.


The 90-year-old was honored for her contributions last month. She retired from the food bank's board of directors this year. Her persistence, along with a group of area churches known as the Nazareth Ministerium and other volunteers, led to the growth of the pantry.


"We really played it by ear because in the beginning, we had no direction and it just grew," Huth recalled. "The ministerium took an interest and we got volunteers from each one the churches and formed a board. Then, we became well-known. That was the beginning of the way it looks today."


Huth was honored during the food bank's May board meeting. Members surprised her by renaming the food distribution room the Elizabeth R. Huth Distribution Room. Some of Huth's family members were present during the ceremony. Her family includes three sons, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.


Jim Byrnes, food bank director, said Huth ran the food bank from the 1980s until late 2009.


"The main thing is she encouraged not only me, but other members of the board and volunteers," Byrnes said. We rely tremendously on our volunteers."


Huth said she met people from all walks of life as the need for food grew.


There were people who suddenly lost their jobs. Some lost their homes to foreclosure. Others' marriages fell apart and had children to take care of.


All had their pride, she said.


"They would stand there and I could see that they were hesitant about coming. Women cried," she recalled. "If I had a nickel for every time I heard (a patron say), 'I've never done this before.' "


But Huth said volunteers made those who were uncomfortable feel at ease and encouraged them to use the food bank until they got back on their feet. No questions were ever asked, she said.


Huth's ultimate fulfillment came when patrons returned to tell food bank volunteers they were doing better. She recalled a single mother going back to school, getting her teaching degree and landing a stable job.


"I was really glad we helped," she said.


It wasn't easy to get the Main Street building. She recalled with a laugh naively thinking she could get a business to donate a building for free.


Essroc Cement Co. sold the 120-year-old former railroad freight station to the food bank in 2008. St. John's Lutheran Church congregants donated $50,000 for the mortgage's down payment. Refrigeration for the facility later was donated by the Visions of Eagles group.


Looking back at all she accomplished, Huth said she had found her life's purpose in the food bank.


"Everybody believes we're here for a purpose. I often thought to myself, 'Am I finding what I am supposed to be doing?'" she said. "I think I found it."




Letter to Editor in Express-Times

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on October 22, 2013 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (249)

The Opinion pages of the October 22, 2013, editions of the Easton Express-Times contained our Letter to the Editor thanking Donna Erdie, Jennings Transportation and 144 Nazareth-area businesses for this year's solicitation benefitting Food Bank clients.

To read the letter, click on


Express-Times article on charitable grant

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on September 3, 2013 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (282)

Please click on

to view the article from today's Express-Times that stems from our news release.

NAFB thanks Keystone Nazareth Charitable Foundation

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on August 28, 2013 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (278)

The Food Bank this week issued the news release that follows to area media outlets:






Nazareth, Pa. -- August 26, 2013 -- On behalf of its clients who will benefit, the Nazareth Area Food Bank said today it is deeply grateful to the Keystone Nazareth Charitable Foundation for its recent grant of $15,000 toward the purchase of a walk-in freezer.


The new, larger freezer gives the Food Bank added capacity to buy and accept donations of frozen vegetables, meats, baked goods and other products, thereby elevating the quality and amount of food it distributes to those in need.


"We are extremely thankful to the Keystone Nazareth Charitable Foundation for selecting the Food Bank as an all-volunteer organization that strives to assist people in our community and then making this most generous gift to fund our acquisition and operation of a new freezer unit," said Cynthia J. Hunt, President of the Board of Directors.


Hunt participated in accepting the Foundation's grant that was presented recently by Debbie L. Rogers, Assistant Vice President of National Penn Bancshares.


Hunt said the Foundation's grant is one more example of how individuals and people at area businesses, churches, schools, philanthropies, service clubs and other civic organizations recognize the need that many in the Nazareth area have and actively do something to address that need through their contributions.


The Nazareth Area Food Bank is a tax-exempt public charity which each month serves nearly 300 families and individuals who live within the six municipalities that make up the Nazareth Area School District.


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Express-Times article on need for garden volunteers

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on April 21, 2013 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (275)

Click on to view a Page 1 Express-Times article from April 21, 2013, about the need for volunteers to help with this year's vegetable garden project to benefit Food Bank clients.


Nazareth Area Food Bank Garden Bulletin!

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on April 15, 2013 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (231)

Volunteer organizers of the garden project to grow fresh vegetables for clients of the Nazareth Area Food Bank are anxiously awaiting some warm spring days to begin this year's garden. And once again, volunteers are being sought to help with the digging, planting and tending to the variety of vegetables we grow.

With thanks again to Essroc for the use of its property at South Main and Delaware Streets in Nazareth for the garden plot across from the Nazareth Area Food Bank, organizers began the first stages of this year's project on Saturday, April 13. Click on the 'Photos' tab to view some pictures of volunteers at work that day.

By the grace of God and all our hardworking volunteers and donors, we had a very successful growing season in 2012. We heartily thank last year’s volunteers and financial supporters, and credit the garden’s success to the generosity of many people in our Nazareth Area School District community and beyond.

We hope that plenty of volunteers will come out and join us during the 2013 growing season to help supply the Food Bank’s clients with fresh vegetables. We plan to enlarge the growing area this year by two more rows and therefore need more helpers on a weekly basis -- usually on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings.

If you like to garden and help others, we invite you to join our efforts for another successful growing season. Please contact either Les or Nancy Little at 610-759-6414. We hope to see you at the garden on South Main Street, Nazareth.

Nazareth Patch: Nazareth's Bike Fest Nets $900 for Food Bank

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on June 14, 2012 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (100)

Click on to view an article about a charitable donation to the Food Bank that resulted from the recent Nazareth Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Nazareth Bike Fest.

The Food Bank is grateful to all who participated in the donation.

WLEV-FM photos of donation from Readers Digest Fund

Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on March 30, 2012 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (266)

Click on to view a series of photos, courtesy of 100.7 WLEV-FM, involving the presentation of a donation from the Reader's Digest Fund in response to our client Debbie nominating the Food Bank in a contest entitled "What would you do if you had $1,000?"


With its "We Hear You America" promotion, WLEV is the local sponsor of the Reader's Digest contest.


Thanks to Debbie for nominating the Food Bank and to WLEV for conveying the donation!