According to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, more than 350,000 people in Allegheny County are food insecure, meaning they do not know when or where their next meal is coming from. In 2018, the Community Human Services (CHS) pantry served an average of 850 families per month and distributed more than 75 tons of food from the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank and local restaurants.
While our pantry is how CHS fights food insecurity in Allegheny County, it’s also a source for valuable community resources. In addition to food distribution, the pantry offers health care education and sign-ups, SNAP education and enrollment, education of transportation systems through the Port Authority, food education and cooking demonstrations, and access to services offered through our main office at 2525 Liberty Avenue. Last year, the pantry gave 60 health and wellness presentations and averaged 108 volunteers per month.
Providing healthy food is not enough to make a long-term impact. Education and community are also key pieces. By educating clients on how to make healthy choices and inviting other community members to participate in the effort, we’re impacting entire communities, not just families and individuals struggling with hunger and food insecurity.
One of those valued community resources that helps make our pantry’s impact on Pittsburgh possible is UPMC. The largest medical insurer in Western Pennsylvania, UPMC donated $34,646.79 from their 2018 UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside Charity Golf Tournament this past August. The community benefit of this donation is huge. The average family walks away from the CHS food pantry with about 40 pounds of food. While this is just a temporary solution to the family's situation, that distribution of food can be the difference between them eating or not—or being able to afford to pay their rent or other expenses. UPMC’s donation will help to alleviate the burden of sacrificing food for other basic needs.
Choosing what we spend our money on is a decision we can all relate to, but for some Pittsburgh families, choosing whether or not to eat in order to avoid being evicted, having their utilities shut off, or accumulating debt to put food on the table is a situation that’s unfortunately becoming increasingly more common. Not only does this generosity demonstrate UPMC’s commitment to the well-being of our local communities facing hunger, but by supporting our pantry, they are empowering the individuals and families living in Allegheny County to live healthier, more stable lives.
Relying heavily on public funding and volunteers, we are truly humbled by UMPC’s support as it will directly impact how much the pantry can provide for Allegheny County families and individuals. When neighbors support each other, communities become stronger. In response to the impact UPMC’s donation will have on the pantry, Annie Fiffick, the Food Pantry Coordinator, quotes Mister Rogers: “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
So, how will $34,000 impact our food pantry? We can provide food for more than 6,000 individuals living in Allegheny County, the figure equal to the number of people who visit the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank annually. We can also purchase 584,000 pounds of produce, and provide that fresh, nutritious produce to 3,500 families. $34,000 will also sustain the pantry’s operations (utilities, salaries, food costs, etc.) for more than four months.
Supporting our food pantry is supporting Allegheny County. With an average of 1500-2000 individuals at the pantry each month, each person costs CHS between $6 and $8 to serve. Not only is the pantry feeding families, giving access to community resources, and providing health education, it’s also helping to relieve some of the pressure food insecurity places on other systems.
It’s the pantry that keeps on giving, and thanks to UPMC, we can continue sustaining and strengthening Allegheny County communities for months to come.
Our food pantry cannot impact Pittsburgh without your help! To donote to the pantry directly, visit our donations page or send a check to 2525 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Or to donate your time, sign up for Thursday or Friday distribution through our Pittsburgh Cares profile.