Food Helpers Community Outreach Program Off to a Great Start

In the first month of its new Community Outreach Program, Food Helpers distributed more than 61,000 pounds of food, as well as health and beauty items to four rural communities in Washington County not served by an existing county-funded food pantry.  Communities served in July were Paris, Prosperity, Marianna, and Fredericktown.  In total over 200 food-insecure families were served.

“It has long been our goal to serve more communities in Washington County, and so we are delighted to have initiated the Community Outreach Program in July,” remarked Connie Burd, Food Helpers Executive Director.  “As we build momentum and increase our marketing efforts, the word has spread and more clients have requested food assistance. The Fredericktown distribution was wonderfully successful. We served over 100 families during our first visit to the waterfront.”

The original plan was to serve 12 sites through the Community Outreach Program, once per quarter on a rotating basis, but California was added after learning that this community did not receive its monthly food boxes in July through the county-funded pantry system.  Until a pantry coordinator can be secured for California, clients were expected to retrieve their boxes from a pantry in Coal Center.  Knowing that most of California’s clients lack transportation, Food Helpers decided to include this community in its Community Outreach Program.

August distribution sites for the Community Outreach Program are Amity, Eldersville, Hickory, and Frankfort Springs; September distribution sites are Eight-Four, East Finley, Venetia, Avella, and California.  In October the rotation begins again.

At Paris, the first Community Outreach Program site, clients overwhelmingly said that they also were in need of toiletries.  And so, with donated products, Food Helpers added a health and beauty bag for each client at all subsequent distributions.  The bags included 15 items including toothpaste, shampoo, liquid soap, etc.  Additionally, all August distributions will also include backpacks and back-to-school supplies for elementary and junior high school children, thanks to an ongoing partnership with CentiMark Corporation.

“To purchase the food for the Community Outreach Program, we utilized $100,000 from our unrestricted reserves, which we anticipate will last for four to six months,” added Burd.  “To be able to continue the program, and hopefully to increase the distributions to each site from once per quarter to once per month, we soon will be initiating a fundraising campaign.  The community has been so very generous to us over the past years, and so we are hopeful that they will continue their generosity to enable us to serve these newly-identified needy families in our community.”

Food Helpers is seeking volunteers to help with packing the food boxes at its facility, as well as volunteers to help distribute the food boxes at each of the distribution sites.  To volunteer, please contact Food Helpers at 724-632-2190.