The Pittsburgh, Washington, meals banks will not accomplice after the transition, in line with Native Information
MEADOWLANDS – Hundreds of vehicles lined up in close rows on the Washington County Fairgrounds for residents in need of boxes of fresh groceries and produce on Tuesday.
Since the coronavirus pandemic struck the region last spring, it has been a common sight on the first Tuesday of every month at the fairgrounds as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has helped countless people bring the economy to a standstill.
In the next few weeks, the Pittsburgh grocery bank will take on an even bigger role, managing the county’s local pantries and providing other services to local residents. The change was necessary after the County Commissioners decided in December to divert their stake of $ 280,000 in federal and state funds to Pittsburgh instead of sending it to the Greater Washington County Food Bank.
Lisa Scales, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Food Bank, said they were ready for the new challenge as they put the pantries and five auto locations into operation.
“We are working diligently to grow the Washington County’s nonprofit feeding network and are confident that the families we serve will experience minimal disruption and new opportunities for support in the months ahead,” said Scales.
The two food banks have been working on a transition plan since January, though they won’t merge as previously hoped if Pittsburgh takes over management on July 1. Instead, Washington Food Bank’s board of directors recently decided to move in a different direction, announcing last month that it will now serve as an “independent not-for-profit” focused on other services within the county.
Chris Claspy, chairman of the Washington Food Bank, said his organization is “excited about rolling out food support programs in a more local and direct way from July.”
“We are confident this will result in an increase in the total number of Washington County’s residents who will be catered specifically to those who may not be able to attend traditional food supply distributions,” said Claspy. “In addition, our expanded programs are designed not only to serve the hungry, but also provide in-depth solutions to prevent food insecurity.”
Kim Rogers, director of the county’s newly formed Department of Human Services, said Tuesday the move was “unexpected” after the two food banks had worked closely on the switch over the past few months and prepared a joint press release earlier this year, in which they indicated interest in a partnership.
Charlese McKinney, director of partner networking programs at Pittsburgh Food Bank, said the formal transition plan went into effect April 26 and will help play a bigger role over the next two months. She said Pittsburgh received no explanation for the Washington Food Bank’s decision to go in a different direction.
“It was consensual,” McKinney said. “I think they are different enough. They have carved out a niche of the community they want to serve. “
Around 800 boxes filled with food were ready to be placed in the trunk of the vehicles as they systematically drove through the drive-up distribution center on the exhibition grounds from 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Volunteers loaded boxes for each family into the vehicles.
“This is usually what we do historically,” McKinney said of the major distribution events in the area.
Roger Bedillion from Claysville was particularly grateful for the monthly distributions on the exhibition grounds. He lost his job in the natural gas drilling industry last year and at these events he relied on the groceries provided to get him through the month.
“It helps me a lot,” said Bedillion. “There is a lot of need. Things are starting to speed up, but they are still not back. “
Sitting in his pickup truck in a middle lane among dozen other cars, Bedillion was impressed with the efficiency of the Pittsburgh Food Bank at its monthly sales events.
“You did a wonderful job,” he said. “It is wonderful.”