Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (GPCFB) welcomed Representatives Reed, Wheatley, Gergely, Oberlander, and English to our faculty in Duquesne this past Wednesday. As a Volunteer Program Coordinator for the Food Bank, I had the opportunity to take Representatives, their staff and members of the media on a tour of our 94,000 SF warehouse. One common misconception about GPCFB is the setting in which we work to support our 380+ partner network. Our LEED certified building houses Food Bank staff, whose work includes, procuring the 2.2 million pounds of food we distribute on a monthly basis; development of programs such as CHOP and Recipe Rainbow; partnering with 15 area farms to rescue surplus produce from the fields; coordinating 16 Produce to People distributions throughout our 11 county service area; engaging the community through food and fundraisers; and of course the thousands of volunteers that donate their time on a yearly basis to support all facets of Food Bank operations. Our network, which is as diverse as the 120,000 individuals we serve each month, includes community food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers and many other social service providers that have committed to our mission to eradicate hunger in southwestern Pennsylvania.
In addition to the tour, Representatives had an opportunity to learn about each of the counties we serve through a roundtable discussion. In SWPA, 323,820 people are food insecure. A food insecure household can mean a parent skipping a meal so their child can eat or a senior visiting their local pantry to ensure they have money needed for medication. The delicate safety net, made up of Food Banks, their partner agencies, and government programs such as the Supplement Nutrition Assistant Program, Summer Feeding, and the State Food Purchase Program, ensure the most vulnerable in our service area can meet their basic needs. By doing so, families’ resources are leveraged so they don’t have to make difficult choices between heating their home or providing a healthy meal at dinner time.