The church in Leechburg works with the Decrease Burrell charity to advertise meals distribution

A Leechburg church has teamed up with a nonprofit in Lower Burrell to ensure food supplies are not an issue for future free distributions.

Twice last month, volunteers from the Kiski Valley Community Church had to turn away families who had been waiting for hours for boxes of groceries in the Leechburg Fire Hall.

The church is distributing food in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box program.

Rev. Todd Pugh said a food truck failed to arrive on February 20 due to inclement weather and a February 27 distribution was canceled because the truck driver worked his assigned hours and forced himself into the area on the morning of the incident from Philadelphia to rest.

The pastor from Kiski Valley said both times he wasn’t aware of the issues until he called the delivery company Elite Transit Solutions.

“It was really frustrating; Most of the time it was disappointing, ”Pugh said on Saturday. “It breaks your heart to see so much hardship that people have to line up two hours before the distribution time and turn them away. It was really sad. The biggest problem was that nobody told us about it. “

Dustin Widdoss, customer solutions manager at Elite Transit Solutions, told the Tribune review a few weeks ago that “weather events across the country over the past week have resulted in vehicle and road restrictions resulting in a shortage of carriers” and ” we look forward to helping you deliver more groceries to families in need, especially in the Pittsburgh area, where we are headquartered. “

Calls to Elite Saturday afternoons were not returned immediately.

Pugh recently reached out to Compassion Network, a charity made up of local churches in the Lower Burrell / New Kensington area, to help address future sales issues.

“We are strong people of faith,” said Mark Resetar, director of the Compassion Network. “That’s how it all works. God cares and we care for other people. “

The network typically focuses on full-scale interventions with families in need of housing, rental assistance, and related things like furniture and appliances.

Resetar said they have been working with the USDA program since May to respond to the increased need for assistance due to the Covid pandemic.

He said they have spent about £ 300,000 on food since then.

The network holds distributions on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Burrell Community Church parking lot in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

“We learned how to deal with the USDA and how to deal with this program that it can be a hit and miss,” Resetar said. “There are no guarantees. We try to rely on more than one source if the USDA doesn’t get through. We haven’t given out any food for just a week in the past few months. “

Other sources include 412 Food Rescue, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that works to ensure that hungry families are fed and that food is not wasted.

Pugh said church volunteers were able to pick up 200 boxes of groceries from the network and distribute them to people in Leechburg on Saturday.

“We had some problems but today went really well,” said Pugh. “We changed everything. Everyone was very grateful and thanked our employees and us for it. People were in a good mood today. “

It is planned to distribute the food in the same way again on March 20 and 27.

The Lower Burrell property opens at 11 a.m., and the Leechburg event starts at 12 p.m. and continues until all of the grocery boxes are gone.

No food distribution is planned for March 13th.

People who need food in Leechburg can register at the church via and receive an email on the day of the event. Volunteers are also welcome.

Those interested in participating in the Compassion Network’s diffusion can call 724-448-8173 or send an SMS.

Calls to the USDA public affairs office on Saturday were not returned immediately.

For more information on the USDA program, visit

Michael DiVittorio is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367,, or on Twitter.

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