Our Mission: The mission of The Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative is to alleviate food insecurity in Whitehall and Coplay.
A 2013 Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) given to 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grade students in the Whitehall-Coplay School District (WCSD) identified hunger as one of the four risk factors requiring attention. At this time, 16.1% of 6th grade students worried about where their next meal was coming from and 12th graders skipped at least one meal a week.
In August of 2014, Shari Noctor attended a Communities that Care (CTC) meeting and became the chairperson, addressing Hunger in Whitehall and Coplay.
In February 2015, a partnership was formed with Second Harvest (the Federal Food Supplier) and Leah Saliby, a WCSD teacher, to create the Snack Pack Pal program. This program provides the most food insecure children with additional food on long weekends and holidays (Thanksgiving, Winter Holiday, Martin Luther King and President’s Day weekends and Spring break).
In October 2015, a separate division of the CTC was established called the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative (WCHI). Partnering with local faith-based organizations, the WCHI began with free community meals the third Tuesday of each month, for community residents who benefited from socialization and nutrition.
In 2017, WCHI ran a 10-week free summer breakfast camp for food insecure school age children in Whitehall. Children attended Monday thru Friday, 8:30-10:00 a.m. and received a hot or cold breakfast, and experienced camp activities as well as 15 minutes of required reading to enhance reading skills. Children left daily with a bagged lunch and on Fridays received extra food for the weekend.
During this year the WCHI secured their 501c3 tax status.
Community meals served 1300 guests, Summer Breakfast Camp provided 1610 meals and the Snack Pack Pals program provided 1600 food packs totaling over 26,000 food items.
In 2018, additional summer breakfast camps were added and two remain to date, one in Whitehall and one in Coplay.
In 2020 Covid-19 happened. The WCHI created a Community Outreach Program (COP) which provided food to children, adults, and seniors in Whitehall and Coplay.
A new Mickley Run Outreach Program, initiated by Shari Noctor, will be geared to the children residing in Mickley Run Apartments.
On January 14, 2021, we were able to open our WCHI Food Pantry, located in the Christ the King School at the St. John the Baptist Church Complex, 3024 S Ruch Street, Whitehall. The Pantry opened and continues with outside bagged food distribution held monthly on the 2nd Thursday in the parking lot at St John the Baptist Catholic Church, Whitehall. In 2021, we registered 393 households, though not everyone comes monthly. We provide enough food to prepare 5 meals per person. We had a total yearly attendance of 5,361 people which includes adults, children, and seniors for a total of 26,805 meals provided.
WCHI is 100% volunteer. Since we work with everyone in the household including children and offer children’s programs, all adult volunteers must provide copies of our required clearances before anyone is permitted to work with us. Most of our clearances are Child Abuse ones required by PA State Law.
In June 2021, we opened six distribution sites throughout Whitehall and Coplay to provide food to children in low income households, a baby through age 18, while school was closed for the summer. WCHI provided a total 1,504 bags of easy to prepare food for the children. WCHI was pleased to provide 8,377 pounds of food to make 7,726 meals including fresh vegetables from our WCHI Garden.
Our WCHI garden located at the Mickley-Prydun Farm provided 651 pounds of fresh vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, banana peppers, and zucchini for the children attending our CSFP.
In October 2021, WCHI resumed our bi-monthly free community meals with our faith based partners. These meals are provided the 1st Sunday and the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 4:00-6:30pm. These meals are well attended and guaranteed for the first 100 guests.
WCHI fully administers the Snack Pack Pal Program (SPP) with assistance from WCSD and St Elizabeth’s Regional School. The mission is to combat hunger for the most food insecure students at both schools by providing a pack of kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare meals and snacks to supplement their nutrition over school holidays and long weekends. On average, WCHI provides 157 bags of shelf-stable food to WCSD and 10 bags to St Elizabeth’s monthly.
In February 2022, WCHI was extremely honored to become a Healthy Pantry Initiatives (HPI). Second Harvest is collaborating with only three Food Pantries in Lehigh County within their HPI grant. WCHI is also one of about 52 Food Pantries selected in Pennsylvania to be part of this initiative. This is a project of Feeding Pennsylvania, who is the statewide association of nine Feeding America affiliated food banks. Their food banks span across 67 counties and serve nearly 2 million people annually. Funding for HPI is provided by SNAP-Ed. The HPI goals are to 1) Increase access to healthy food within the food pantries and 2) Increase consumption of healthy food by pantry guests through various promotional methods and materials. There are so many great aspects to HPI that will favorably impact all our WCHI Program recipients.
Today, we continue our community partnerships with Whitehall-Coplay Press, Second Harvest Food Bank, Lehigh County, Diocese of Allentown, our faith based partners, DanJon Management, WCSD, Whitehall Twp and Coplay Boro along with a myriad of service organizations including Community that Cares, Knights of Columbus, Whitehall Lions, Whitehall Rotary, Minsi Trail Boy Scouts, Whitehall & Coplay Libraries, local businesses, and so many local residents. Without you, WCHI could not help so many in our community. We need and appreciate all of you!!