Thursday, May 22, 2008

LV Food Banks Need Our Help

"In this country, there's no good reason for a mom and kids to be hungry."

Those are the words of Allentown Rescue Mission's gaunt exec director, Gary Millspaugh. I met him and Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning this morning at some ungodly hour for ... breakfast. At the time he said that, I was stuffing my face with a feta cheese omelet.

"Hey Gary, the owner here would like to see you about a donation."

As Millspaugh went in to the kitchen, Dean and I finished off his eggs. There's no good reason for us to be hungry either, and Gary is skinny, so he's used to not eating.

Gary is one of those very rare gems who really cares about other people. He has some wonderful ideas to help Allentown's homeless and very poor, and I'm going to tell you about that in the next few days. But there's a bigger issue he wants me to tell you about now.

Most of the low income kids going to school get free breakfasts and lunches. In fact, some of the young ladies depend on the school nurse for feminine hygiene products. Their mothers can't afford to give them more than one item, if that.

In about three weeks, school will be over. Low income moms will be going to their local food banks. But the cupboards are bare. The rising cost of food and fuel is hurting people everywhere. It especially hurts the poor, who have to decide whether to pay the electric bill or eat. Unfortunately, people right here in the Lehigh Valley are hungry.

The food banks need help. Gary asks that, when you do your grocery shopping, to pick up a few extra items and drop them off at the local food bank. Here are some of the Lehigh Valley food banks.

Allentown Rescue Mission, 355 W. Hamilton St, Allentown, PA (You can drop off food and supplies at the Mission any week day, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call Bill Dickinson at 610-740-5500, ext. 14, for other times or arrangements.)

Salvation Army of Bethlehem, 521 Pembroke Rd, Bethlehem, PA 18018. Phone: 610-867-4681.

Northampton Area Food Bank, 1601 Canal Street, Northampton, PA. Phone: 610-262-8030.

Nazareth Area Food Bank, St. John’s Lutheran Church, 200 S. Broad Street, Nazareth, PA 18064. Contact Elizabeth Huth, director (610-759-0821) or Jim Byrnes, president of the board of directors (610-923-0821).

Bethany E.C. Church, 224 N 6th St, Allentown, PA 18102. Phone: 610-434-1477.

Lehigh County Conference of Churches, 8th and Walnut, Allentown, PA. Phone: 610-462-4984;

New Bethany Ministries, 333 W 4th St, Bethlehem, PA 18015. Phone: 610-691-5602 x27;

Second Harvest Food Bank, 2045 Harvest Way, Allentown, PA 18104. Phone: 610-434-0875;

These are the most needed food and non-perishable items:

Canned Foods
Fruits and Juices
Meat (spam, tuna, deviled ham, chicken, turkey)
Meat Meals (chili, beef stew, chicken and dumplings)
Canned Pasta meals
Pork and Beans
Soups
Tomatoes and Vegetables

Baby and Other Needs
Baby Food and Formula
Diapers
Breakfast Cereal
Boxed Meals
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Pasta and Sauces
Rice

If you know of any Lehigh Valley food banks that I've missed, please let me know in the comments. I'd like to create a permanent link to all local food banks.

12 comments:

A.J. Cordi said...

I'm curious, Do any local supermarkets and/or restaurants donate to these food banks?

Anonymous said...

Let the CEO of the Valley fork it over. They been robbing us for years.

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

If there are any avid gardeners or garden clubs out there, you might consider donating any bumper crops of tomatoes, cucumbers or other produce, too. Home-grown vegetables and fruits can be a real treat for food bank recipients.

Just call first to make sure the food bank can take a special delivery of fresh produce at that particular time. Each one has its own system (an limits) for storage and distribution. If one place can't take your garden overflow, they should be able to direct you to another food bank that can.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm curious, Do any local supermarkets and/or restaurants donate to these food banks? According to Gary, both Wal-Mart and Giant have been very generous. But I wasn't asking about them.

Anonymous said...

Do any of the food banks accept clothing donations as well? I always give clothes to Via or Goodwill, but if there are other options out there I'd like ot know.

Bernie, you're right about Gary - he's tops.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm supposed to meet w/ Gary again next week and will ask him about old clothing. I do know that there are some products they could really use - diapers and feminine hygiene products. Those items have become quite expensive.

Anonymous said...

I will distribute this to many of the homes in the A-town neighborhoods and hopefully people will donate. Unfortunately, this is the part of Allentown many don't see or refuse to see.

Alfonso

Valima said...

Please tell me that the picture associated with this link is not one of a child in the Lehigh Valley?

Upon thought....that picture is heartbreaking, regardless of locale.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Valima,

I found that picture looking for pictures of hunger in America.

Karenemt said...

Bernie, One of my best friends is pastor at the United Methodist Church at 14th and Linden. They just got their approval to open their new food bank and will be stocking up this week already.

I will post more details/hours as they become available. One unique thing about their food bank is that it will be open Saturdays to try to assist the working poor who cannot get to some of the other "regular hours" food banks.

Thank you so much for posting about this!

Thank you for mentioning things like diapers and feminine hygiene products - those things are very very expensive.

In addition, I also wanted to mention that somehow we should work on getting the poor some reusable alternatives - cloth diapers and reusable feminine hygiene products are available and have come a LONG way in the past few years. In addition, some breastfeeding support for the lower income moms would help them give their babies the absolute best and they wouldn't have to worry about the out-of-control price of formula.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Karen, if you could give me a little more info concerning this new food bank, I would appreciate it. I'm trying to prepare an inclusive list.

Anonymous said...

I'm in serious need of food in my house also in need of financial assistance in finding a new place to live for my family been looking every where but everything is sky high can't afford to pay high rent looking for something that I can afford I'm a single mom with three girls n a son