Washington County Native Information Meals Financial institution Transition Conferences are at the moment underway

Transition meetings are ongoing as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank prepares to fight hunger in Washington County and provide food to local residents in need.

Several board members of the Greater Washington County Food Bank met in separate sessions last month with the County Commissioners and Pittsburgh Organization workers to see how the two food banks can work together to serve local people.

The Pittsburgh Food Bank will take on the lead role in Washington County after the County Commissioners decided in mid-December to allocate $ 280,000 in state and federal funds to this organization in place of the local Food Bank.

Chris Claspy, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Greater Washington County Food Bank, met with representatives from the Pittsburgh Food Bank on Jan. 22 to review the current inventory in the local pantries and how the relationship between the two organizations works.

“We both certainly have the same mission. We discussed how we would continue to work together to serve the underserved people of Washington County. We’re working out the details for the transition, ”said Claspy

“We both agree that unfortunately the needs in the county are beyond what either of us can do and there is room for both of us to work together to help those in need,” he added.

Charlese McKinney, the director of partner networking programs at Pittsburgh Food Bank, also attended the meeting and said it was productive as they continue to plan how they will serve the local community. She said Greater Pittsburgh already has an 11 county network serving it and has a similar agreement with Lawrence County that is being used as a model in Washington County.

“They’re going to do our thing to see the right transition,” McKinney said. “The commissioners just wanted to make sure we worked together and that people in Washington County were served.”

She promised that all Washington County monies would be “separated” and then returned to the community by providing “grants” to local food pantries for purchases. The pantries will also have access to Pittsburgh’s larger food network, giving them more options for their customers, she said.

McKinney expects further meetings with county officials and the Washington County Food Bank – including one in the week of February 15 – during the transition period, which they estimate will be three months. She added that the Greater Washington County Food Bank continues to operate, although it is still unclear whether Pittsburgh will directly administer the county’s 11 pantries.

“You will continue to be a viable organization and resource for Washington County. We’re still talking about what that looks like. They are fully committed to their mission in their current form, ”said McKinney. “Part of our conversations and transitions is who exactly is going to do what, and those things are not fully understood.”

County Commissioners Diana Irey Vaughan and Nick Sherman said they had received complaints last year about the operation of the Greater Washington County Food Bank and prompted them to vote to reallocate the money to Pittsburgh. Commissioner Larry Maggi voted against the decision.

Irey Vaughan said there have been concerns about the closure of more than a dozen local food pantries in recent years and food quality issues. She also criticized the grocery bank’s “Truck to Trunk” plan, which closed pantries within walking distance of the neighborhoods and forced many people to continue to one of the remaining pantries, even though some customers did not have a car.

Claspy, along with Food Bank board members Ken Kulak and Donald Snoke, met with commissioners on Jan. 27 to review the organization’s future and how it can continue its mission of serving local residents.

“We talked about where we are and how we got to where we are,” said Irey Vaughan.

Connie Burd, executive director of the Washington County Food Bank, did not attend any of the planning meetings. Claspy said that’s because the board asked them to focus on day-to-day operations instead while the board worked through the transition with the Pittsburgh Food Bank and county officials. Burd didn’t respond to a phone message asking for comment.

Claspy said the meeting with the commissioners last week had been productive and they reaffirmed their commitment to working with the county and their colleagues at the Pittsburgh food bank.

“All hurt feelings that we leave behind. Our meeting with Washington County officials was more forward-looking than the rearview mirror, ”Claspy said. “We haven’t looked at the motivations behind the decision made. That’s in the past. We want to focus on what is ahead of us. We want to maintain open lines of communication. “

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