Hunger hides in plain sight all around our community. From kids heading back to school trying to learn, to seniors living on fixed incomes and doing their best to
Through your generous support, you’re helping provide the nourishing food children, families and seniors need to stay healthy. And because every dollar stretches to help provide 5 meals, you can make an incredible impact for neighbors like Elayne, Nancy, Antoinette and so many school children.
Please take a moment to read through this issue of News From the Heart. You’ll meet some of the families you’ve helped through your generosity and learn about some of the programs you’ve supported.
I hope these stories will inspire you to continue partnering with us to help your neighbors facing hunger. Thank you!
Giving Food — and Smiles
Feeding a child is a simple thing, but those who do it know that food changes lives, too.
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s Child Nutrition Team works with 83 school districts across 11 counties in our service area to ensure children have access to the food they need to grow and thrive. One of them is Trinity School District.
“Food services people are the first employees in the school buildings every day,” says Nicole Bazant Pleil, Food Service Director for Trinity. “We want to see the kids’ smiles and hear about what happened the night before. We want to connect with them and share with them.”
Kids who eat in school programs are more likely to consume more of the nutritious food they need — things like dairy, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. These foods are critical for growing children, but hard to come by for some families. Studies show that eating school meals can lead to higher test scores, calmer classrooms, fewer trips to the nurse and
“I need food to concentrate, or I just can’t do my schoolwork,” says one student.
“My stomach hurts and I can’t concentrate with an empty stomach,” says another.
I know you agree that no child deserves to go hungry. That’s why we’re so grateful for your ongoing support to ensure that every child has access to the food they need — during school, after school and on weekends, holidays and breaks.
“I always tell our food staff that you aren’t going to get rich doing this work, but you are going to make a difference to a child who otherwise may not have anything to eat that day,” says Nicole.
“We’re All in This Together”
Antoinette’s husband has been waiting for a kidney transplant for five years now. “He’s on dialysis … he’s in stage 4 kidney failure,” she says.
When COVID-19 hit, Antoinette had to leave her job to become a full-time caregiver to her husband, unable to take any risks with his health.
In addition, she has two young children at home who have special needs with food that can be challenging for her to afford.
“Everything has gone up in cost at least 75 cents to $1.50,” Antoinette says. “They say buy early, but if you don’t have the means, you have to do what you can do when you can do it.”
With food and gas prices continually on the rise, and with constant doctor visits and two kids at home, it’s all Antoinette’s family can do just to get by.
“One good thing is the Food Bank is always there,” she says. “It’s a big help.”
Antoinette and other neighbors like her are so grateful for the help you make possible. “We have to stick together,” she says. “We’re all in this together.”
“It Makes Me Feel Important — Like I Have a Purpose”
Nancy, 64, has lived in Pittsburgh her entire life, and for the last 30 years, she’s lived with a disability from a terrible car accident.
“It smashed both of my knees,” she says. “I’ve had to wear braces, use crutches and walkers. It’s been a struggle.”
Recently, Nancy’s brother introduced her to a partner program that provides fresh produce and other nutritious food to help fill the gap between what she needs and what she can afford.
“I live check to check. It’s early in the month, and I’m broke,” Nancy says. “But I have enough gas in my truck to do what I’ve got to do, and I have enough food in my house that I’m not going to go hungry.”
Nancy is also able to get help through our drive-up senior food box distribution. And while she’s here, she even picks up boxes for more than a dozen of her elderly neighbors who are homebound. It’s her way of giving back for the help she receives!
“A lot of seniors don’t have cars. They can’t get out, so by bringing it to them, they are getting more nourishment,” Nancy says. “It makes me feel important — like I do have a purpose.”
Because of friends and supporters like you, we’re able to serve even more seniors in our community, like Nancy and the neighbors she helps. Thank you!
Hidden Hunger: Food Insecurity Hides in Every Community
Elayne had a successful writing and editing business and a lovely home in the North Hills. She worked hard as a single mom, but things were going well for her family.
Then, in a series of awful events, everything changed.
Her company began to struggle. Her mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness and moved in. And Elayne fell down her stairs and suffered a traumatic brain injury that left her permanently unable to work.
“In a flash, the life I knew was over,” she says.
Though her home is paid for thanks to years of a successful business, her disability check leaves her with only a few hundred dollars a month after taxes are paid. She barely makes ends meet, something her neighbors might never believe.
Thankfully, she found out about a local pantry that partners with the Food Bank. At first, Elayne was embarrassed to ask for help, but finally she decided to try it.
“This is set up like a grocery store, and they walked me through it, and I had my own little cart,” she says. “It was very humanizing.”
Elayne is so grateful for the nutritious food she receives thanks to help from neighbors like you.