If you’re from Western Pennsylvania, you probably know Mr. Rodger’s advice for people in need: “Look for the helpers.”
When it comes to food in Washington County, look for the food helpers.
Staff members, volunteers and board members at the Greater Washington County Food Bank spent the last five years re-working, re-organizing, re-assessing and ultimately re-branding themselves. They are now, officially, Food Helpers.
“We have grown to be so much more than a food bank, and so we needed a new brand to represent that growth,” said Food Helpers Executive Director Connie Burd.
See the pretty new logo? It represents the history of food banking in Washington County and its four new divisions - Feeding, Training, Thrifting and Farming.
Food Helpers will continue to do what they do best - feed the food insecure people of Washington County through its Greater Washington County Food Bank division. Since the pandemic began, the organization has seen an unprecedented (for Washington County) $3 million worth of food go through their doors and into the community. In addition, as part of the PA Senior Food Box Program, Food Helpers facilitates boxes of nutritional food for the senior population age 60+, serving as many as 700 seniors per month who need food assistance.
There were even more food-insecure people during the pandemic, so Food Helpers stepped up to fill the need. There is a new truck you may see in your neighborhood. The Greater Washington County Food Bank pioneered the Truck to Trunk delivery model to distribute food to needy families in rural and underserved areas. If you want fresh, they have fresh. Partnerships with local farmers ensure that clients receive the highest quality food. Check out their website, as distribution sites change from week to week.
But that’s just their mission of Feeding. They are also Training anyone in Washington County, regardless of economic circumstances, at the Healthy Habits Training Center, where they offer courses related to food preparation and nutrition, gardening techniques and life skills. They will soon have a commercial kitchen not only to prepare meals but to teach others how to do it. Check out the gardening classes if you want to impress your neighbors with the size of your zucchini.
The third leg is Farming. On the 22-acre facility sits a division called The FARM. Food Helpers not only grows vegetables, traditionally and hydroponically (they grow in water!), they’ve also planted an orchard that will provide fruit in the near future. If you want to learn how to do any of that, Food Helpers will gladly teach you.
And finally, Thrifting. Country Thrift Market is a high-quality thrift store, including a “boutique” section of designer fashions. Stop by and see it. It brings “re-use, recycle” to a whole new level. The store is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Gently used donations to the store (they accept clothing, home goods, furniture and of course, “more”) are accepted Tuesdays and Wednesday during business hours.
They might be called Food Helpers, but they also have their own helpers - volunteers and local donors who always show up when needed.
Their volunteers embody what it means to be a Food Helper: putting the betterment of the community above themselves, helping those they may never meet. Donors who make Food Helpers their charity of choice enable food to go out to those who need it most. It takes a team of food helpers to be the Food Helpers.
EQT is one of the many local companies that has provided financial and volunteer services to Food Helpers and its programs.
“We are proud to support Food Helpers in the many programs the organization provides to the community. The innovation and education that is taking place on The FARM is nothing short of stellar!” said Ellen Rossi, president of the EQT Foundation. “We’ve been so fortunate to have our EQT Qrew volunteer on a monthly basis to assist with warehouse support and pack food boxes; everyone always looks forward to the time they spend working alongside the staff.”
Interested? Visit foodhelpers.org. Food Helpers would love to support you as a client with their new food program. Get involved as a volunteer by helping pack boxes or volunteer as a group at an upcoming distribution. Join as a student, where knowledge is power. Join the mission as a donor to ensure no one goes to bed hungry. Help Food Helpers help Washington County.
Sponsored content brought to you by The Dr. Malcolm Ruben and Dr. Jerold Ruben Fund of the Washington County Community Foundation.