|Posted by Jim Byrnes, Director on December 12, 2011 at 8:45 PM|
Lehigh Valley food banks stock up for holiday season
By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | The Express-Times, Monday, December 12, 2011
Hunger in the Nazareth area is a single grandmother struggling to support three generations, including herself and disabled adults.
It’s a young couple coping with unemployment and rising housing and fuel costs while caring for two children.
And it’s a widow who needs nonperishable food items to supplement a meager monthly allowance.
These and about 300 others arrive every month at the Nazareth Area Food Bank requesting two bags of food.
Hundreds of volunteers support the food bank, including church groups, civic organizations, Scouts and schools. A core group of about 25 help stock shelves and distribute packages.
“We have people come to us for food because they are unable to make ends meet even when both spouses are working,” said Jim Byrnes, food bank director. “It really makes no difference where you live.”
“There’s always a need,” agreed Ellen Potter, who runs the Easton Area Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry with her husband, Dennis.
The food bank that opened in August 2010 serves folks who earn less than 150 percent of the poverty level. The bank supports 200 Easton families.
The only requirement to receive food from the Nazareth Area Food Bank is residency inside the Nazareth Area School District boundaries. Food is given on the honor system, Byrnes said. Many who come are proud.
“We get people who say, ‘We couldn’t hold out any more and were trying to put off coming to a food bank,’” Byrnes said. “But that’s why we’re here and why the community supports us.”
The Nazareth Area Food Bank’s roots date to efforts in the mid-1980s by local churches. They consolidated at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Nazareth and then opened a headquarters in 2008 on Main Street.
Today, the nonprofit serves hundreds.
“There is a recognition in the community that times are tough and we are seeing a greater demand,” Byrnes said.
The Nazareth Area Food Bank normally is stocking near-empty shelves for the holiday season, but 10 local Boy Scout troops collected 5,415 pounds of food in recent weeks.
“This is the most we have ever received in a holiday season,” Byrnes said. “We really are blessed in that the community is a very giving community and recognizes there are less fortunate among us who need help and are always willing to help us.”
HOW TO HELP AND GET HELP
•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 often include canned stew or chili, canned peas and mixed vegetables, peanut butter and jelly, boxed cereal, cans of soup and Spam cans.
•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. Since most clients rely on food stamps, which can only be used for food products, Potter said there is a need for soaps, paper products, toiletries and laundry detergent. Also needed are pasta, Hamburger Helper boxes, boxed potatoes, spaghetti sauce, cereal and oatmeal.
•The New Bethany Ministries Food Bank, 339 W. Fourth St., Bethlehem, has a concentration of clients on the city’s South Side. Volunteers say nobody is turned away. The food bank is open 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.
•The NORWESCAP Food Bank, 201 N. Broad St., Phillipsburg, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays and Saturdays. Backed by the help of more than 900 volunteers, NORWESCAP distributes more than 2 million pounds of food annually to more than 120 pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, on-site feeding programs, child care centers, senior centers and programs for the disabled in Hunterdon, Sussex and Warren counties.
•For information on the Nazareth Area Food Bank, call 610-365-8869 or visit nazarethareafoodbank.org.
•For information on the Easton Area Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, call 610-253-3553, ext. 50.
•For information on the NORWESCAP Food Bank, call 908-454-4322 or visit norwescap.org.
•For information New Bethany Ministries Food Bank, call 610-691-5602 or visit newbethanyministries.org.
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