FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, PA (February 4, 2021) – Amidst COVID-19 it is estimated that food insecurity across southwestern Pennsylvania has risen 42 percent since 2018. In Washington County, 14.1 percent of residents are facing food insecurity. In comparison, in 2018 that number was 9.6 percent. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Greater Washington County Food Bank (GWCFB) are committed to remaining united in their work to ensure all Washington County residents have access to food needed to lead healthy, productive lives.
This year marks 40 years that Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has proudly been serving southwestern Pennsylvania residents. Washington County has been a part of this service for the entirety of the organization’s existence. Greater Washington County Food Bank has been operating as a member of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s network for more than 35 years.
GWCFB delivered more food in 2020 than any year in its history through the Truck to Trunk model that was adopted in 2019. The use of complementary Power Packs meant that everyone who came to a distribution location received food without regard to their registration status with the organization.
Connie Burd, executive director of Greater Washington County Food Bank explained, “The current plan for departure from the legacy pantry distribution model is the result of exponential growth at Greater Washington County Food Bank. The services we provide to our Washington County neighbors goes beyond food. We strive to weaken the chain of events that leads to food insecurity. We are changing lives and helping people live their best possible lives…so no one goes to bed hungry.”
In 2015, GWCFB purchased property in Centerville, Washington County which unlocked opportunities for programming and services that complement monthly distribution of supplemental food boxes to families in need. Additionally, the organization’s Healthy Habits Training Center and The Farm offer programs to provide life-altering skills so anyone can gain proficiencies in a broad range of topics. Finally, GWCFB’s Country Thrift Market provides yet another level of provision for those who need affordable household goods and clothing.
“Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s number one commitment is serving all of our neighbors who are food insecure in Washington County,” said Lisa Scales, president and CEO of the Food Bank. “Greater Washington County Food Bank continues to be an asset both to our network of hunger-relief charities and to Washington County neighbors in need. We look forward to continuing to work with them as we enter this new phase of our partnership in the region.”
While the county’s TEFAP and SFPP contracts have been awarded to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, both organizations are committed to continuing to work together in service to residents in the county. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has systems in place to segregate the funds for these two programs to ensure that they are used only for Washington County.
“Families facing hunger from all reaches of the County need consistent access to nutritious food – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more families struggle to put food on the table,” said Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan. “As the steward of state and federal funding that helps to feed local families struggling with food insecurity, the County’s goal is always to ensure the most efficient, accessible, nutritious distribution plan is implemented on behalf of our residents, and we are pleased that Washington County residents facing hunger will have access to enhanced services through two strong organizations.”
Beyond executing the county’s TEFAP and SFPP contracts, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is completing an assessment of the county’s pantry network to better understand the needs of the community and to strengthen the existing food assistance network in Washington County. The organization is making its full inventory available to existing pantries in the county, which not only includes the food and funds from TEFAP and SFPP, but also Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s larger inventory of items it purchases for its partners. Pantries also now have direct access to assistance with equipment needed to safely store, handle, transport and distribute food through Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
About Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is a nonprofit organization that distributes nearly 40 million meals annually across 11 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania through a network of 500 agencies, partners and programs. The Food Bank was founded in 1980 and is a member of Feeding America, the leading domestic hunger-relief charity in the U.S. For more information on hunger in our region or how to get involved, visit pittsburghfoodbank.org.
About Greater Washington County Food Bank
Greater Washington County Food Bank (GWCFB) is a nonprofit organization that distributed nearly 7.5M pounds of food to citizens in need in Washington County during 2020. GWCFB’s mission is to form lasting solutions for hunger insecurity through effective food distribution systems; to educate and empower the needy in seeking positive lifestyle changes; and, to create awareness through individual and community partnerships. For more details, please visit gwcfb.org.