I can’t believe we will start September this week. Time surely does fly. I hope everyone has enjoyed the summer.
Just a reminder our WCHI Food Pantry will be open outside in the St John the Baptist Church parking lot, 3024 S Ruch St, Whitehall (diagonal from former Paulie’s restaurant, Coplay) next Thursday, September 9th 11am-1pm and 5:30-7:00 pm.. Please mark the date on your calendar since there are 5 Thursdays this month. To keep everyone safe, our volunteers will be wearing face masks. We ask the guests to do the same while in the church parking lot. Reminder: no smoking on church property.
Our Mission is to alleviate food insecurity in Whitehall and Coplay. Our guests have different reasons for coming to our Pantry distribution. All are kind and very appreciative that we are providing them with much needed food. Our demographics are comprised of all different types of households: singles, adults with or without children, multi-generational households, and seniors. Proof of residency is required: a driver’s license or utility bill. Income limits do apply, but no proof of income is required.
We are here to help our community. Each guest receives 4-5 bags of dry goods like canned soup and vegetables, pasta, sauce, cereal, pancake mix, peanut butter, jelly, etc., a bag of frozen meats, a bag of refrigerated items like butter and cheese, and if needed baby and dog/cat food. Fresh produce and toiletries are distributed when available. The bagged items change monthly. We have never run out of food, but are available while food supplies last.
Our monthly numbers have increased as more people find out about us. In August we served 121 households including 179 adults, 154 children, and 78 seniors. If you are a resident and need food, please come. Everyone needs help sometimes in their life. We are here to help you.
WCHI’s Cash Bingo starts on Sunday, September 12th at Commitment to Family & Community, 165 Cherry St near the Coplay Giant. Please mark your calendars and call Liz Rodgers at 484-274-6687 to register so we have an idea how many people are coming. Walk-ins are fine. Doors open at 1pm. Bingo starts at 2 pm. We play 15 board games and 5 paper specials. Bring your own bingo chips and dabbers $15 includes 2 boards and corn is available. Specials are $5 a 5/pack. Food is available for purchase. To keep our volunteers and guests safe, face masks are required except when eating. Please bring a food item for either Snack Pack Pals https://tinyurl.com/SnackPackPals
or for our Food Pantry https://tinyurl.com/WCHIPantryList
This is just a reminder on food safety for the upcoming Labor Day weekend cookouts. Cold foods such as potato salad should be kept under 40 degrees and hot foods should be refrigerated once they cool down to 136 degrees. Pathogens (bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms) survive from 41-135F degrees and multiply four times every 20 minutes in the 70-125F degree range. This is what makes people sick. If food is held for 4 hours or more in the 41-135F temperatures, the food must be thrown out.
When cooking proteins, please use a food thermometer and make sure to insert in the largest part of the protein. While cooking the different food types, see the minimum temps to make sure the thermometer reaches these: Seafood 145F, Whole cuts of Beef and Pork 145F, Ground Beef & Ground Fish 155F, and Whole and Ground Poultry 165F.
I thought it would be fun to look at the summer seasonal produce that are available at most local farms and farm stands. They include Apples, Beets, Peppers, Cantaloupe, Crookneck Squash, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Endive, Garlic, Grapes, Green Beans, Honeydew, Peppers, Nectarines, Okra, Peaches, Plums, Radishes, Onions, Shallots, Squash, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Watermelon, and Zucchini.
Fresh vegetables are available at many farms and farmers markets throughout the Lehigh Valley year round. My friend, Allison Czapp, oversees the Nurture Nature Center’s Buy Fresh Buy Local of the Greater Lehigh Valley program and works very closely with the local farmers in our area. Please go to www.buylocalglv.org to find a local farm stand or market near you. You can also download the 2019-2021 Local Food Guide, which is filled with wonderful information along with all the local farms and farmers markets available right here in the Lehigh Valley on pages 56-62. This guide is an excellent resource and I urge you to take a look at it.
WCHI works with Allison’s Lehigh Valley Fresh Food Bucks Program. Please go to www.lvfreshfoodbucks.org for much more info than I can give you in this short article. This program works with low income residents who have an EBT/Access card (food stamps). Fresh Food Bucks gives people shopping with food stamps up to $10 per day to purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables. Residents eat better while supporting local farmers!
Whether you enjoy shopping at a farmers market, farm stand, the Eat Real Food Mobile Market or your neighborhood corner store, LV Fresh Food Bucks are easy to use! WCHI promotes this program with our guests all the time. This is how it works: 1. Take your EBT/ACCESS card to a participating location (find locations at www.lvfreshfoodbucks.org) 2. Shop for SNAP eligible food items using your EBT/ACCESS card. 3. They match what you spend with free LV Fresh Food Bucks to buy fresh and local produce – up to $10 a day! If you spend $5.00 on eligible products, the vendor will give you $5.00 of free eligible produce at the same time. You can spend up to $10 every day, and whatever you spend is matched with eligible produce. The two closest locations to Whitehall-Coplay are Hersh’s Market, 129 S 17th Street, West Allentown 484-664-7209 and Crooked Row Farm, 3245 Route 309, Just north of Orefield Rd, Orefield 610-417-6982. Fresh Food Bucks are accepted at both locations all year round.
Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers are also still available for low-income seniors and mothers enrolled in WIC. This program provides $24 in checks to use of fresh, locally grown produce. You can get vouchers until September 20th, and they expire at the end of November. Seniors can get vouchers by calling 610-782-3034 in Lehigh County and 610-829-6500 in Northampton County.
Anne Chickilly and her husband Erik Segan have grown fantastic vegetables at our WCHI garden including banana peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini for our Children’s Summer Feeding Program. The children have been receiving fresh vegetables for several weeks and get very excited every day when they see that are receiving more. Our Children’s Summer Feeding Program ends on Wednesday, August 25th due to WCSD starting school on Monday, August 28th.
Though the weather was very hot on Thursday, WCHI had a great turnout of Pantry guests and WCHI volunteers at both the morning and evening food distributions. We served 121 households (95 Whitehall and 26 Coplay) comprised of 154 children, 179 adults, and 78 seniors (age 60+). We also registered 16 new households.
Thank you to all our dedicated volunteers, who all have completed our required clearances. Each person is very compassionate and works very hard with the many aspects of our pantry distribution – picking up and unloading food, sorting and packing the bags; due to Covid putting up our tables and pop-up tents to serve our guests who drive through one of two lines outside in the St John parking lot; bringing the bags outside to our many food stations, running and getting more inventory as the bags get depleted. But most especially these dedicated volunteers are helping those in need in our community. We are all making a difference in people’s lives. Our guests consistently thank us for providing much needed food and kindness. Some cry.
We were hoping to be distributing food inside the Pantry in September. However, we need to receive guidance from the PA Department of Agriculture who oversees all the food in PA and Second Harvest who also gets guidance from Feeding America. We are currently still mandated to be outside due to Covid.
We will be resuming our Free Community Meals as soon as we can. An opening date has not been set yet as we are still working on the logistics. We are having another public planning meeting to work towards this goal on Tuesday, Augusts 24th at 11 am in our Pantry at the St John the Baptist Complex, 3024 S Ruch St, Whitehall. Anyone can attend this meeting. Please call/text me for directions.
Prior to Covid, WCHI partnered with our faith based and other organization members to provide one or more of our 24 meals on the 1st Sunday and the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 4-6 pm. Hot, sit down meals were always guaranteed for the 1st 100 guests. The meal locations rotated throughout Whitehall and Coplay with a published list of the host site locations. Our guests received a hot meal and were able to socialize and make new friends. All our guests are low income residents of Whitehall and Coplay.
These Whitehall and Coplay organizations included: Commitment to Family & Community, Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley (MALV), Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, St Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church, St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, St John’s United Church of Christ (Grape St), St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, and Whitehall Bible Fellowship Church. The Korean Church of the Lehigh Valley has done several food drives for WCHI and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -Day Saints have provided several cleared volunteers and they help us weekly and sometimes twice a week. Thank you to all of you.
At our meeting last month, we also had new parishes attending to obtain more information to also see about hosting a meal. Also, if any local Whitehall and Coplay restaurant or business would like to provide a meal for 100 guests, please call me so we can discuss the details.
It is with great pleasure that I inform you that through our Children’s Summer Feeding Program (CSFP), from June 16th through August 4th, WCHI has provided 1,065 bags of dry food to low income Whitehall and Coplay children. Some children came once, some come when they can, and some come every distribution. Typically, the Monday distribution provides a bag of food for each child in the household (a baby through age 18) to prepare 4 meals (2 breakfasts and 2 lunches) and the Wednesday distribution provides food for 6 meals (3 breakfasts and 3 lunches). Bagged food is different every day for 4 to 5 distribution days and then the food repeats over again.
What is even more significant is that through August 4th, WCHI has provided the food for the children to make 2,755 meals to help alleviate childhood hunger throughout the summer. Our program continues every Monday and Wednesday 10-11am at six sites in Whitehall and Coplay through August 25th. Whitehall and Coplay low income children can attend any Monday and Wednesday at a site closest to their home, even if they have not come before. Please pass on this information.
Our selfless volunteers should all feel very proud. There are many hours devoted to the CSFP and to our Pantry. Food is delivered to our WCHI Pantry via food donations delivered to my office and to the Whitehall and Coplay libraries. We also pick up food weekly from Second Harvest Food Bank. The food is unloaded at the Pantry, sorted and bagged for both the Children’s Summer Feeding Program and for our Pantry guests. One of the four site managers from each of the six feeding locations then comes to the Pantry to pick up the food every Monday and Wednesday. Volunteers load their cars with the bagged food and then unload any remaining food bags after the distribution is finished at 11am.
Vegetables are also delivered from Anne Chickilly from our WCHI garden. Anne and her husband Erik have been working the garden since last year. They are currently harvesting zucchini and tomatoes. Our volunteers sort the vegetables for each CSFP site and the site managers give the vegetables to the children, while supplies last.
Every Monday and Wednesday books are also provided. The children select as many books as they want to keep. This will continue through the end of our program. And we were able to offer Christmas in July thanks to toy donations from Steve Parrish at Edward Jones, Whitehall and Steve’s clients.
The children have a great rapport with our site managers and enjoy the bagged food, fresh vegetables, books and the presents!! Our volunteers and you the public, through your time, talent and treasures, have made a difference in these children’s lives. THANK YOU ALL!
Reminder: Thursday, August 12th our Pantry is open 11-1pm and 5:30-7pm for any food insecure Whitehall or Coplay residents. Call me if you know of a homebound resident to make arrangements for you to pick up food to deliver to them.
Please mark your calendars and call me to register for BINGO. We are starting again on Sunday, September 12th at Commitment to Family and Community, 165 Cherry St, Coplay. Doors open at 1pm and bingo starts at 2pm. Registration is $15 and you receive two bingo boards. Additional boards are $1.00 each. Please bring bingo chips and dabbers. Corn will be provided if you don’t have chips. Paper specials are 5 for $5.00. Food will be available for purchase.
WCHI is delighted to be helping so many Whitehall and Coplay food insecure residents through both our Food Pantry and our Summer Children’s Feeding Program (CSFP). We could not do any of these programs without our wonderful volunteers and the community’s financial and product support. Thank you!!
Just a reminder that our Food Pantry is open for “Drop and Go” pick up next Thursday, August 12th, in the St John the Baptist Parking lot, 3024 S Ruch St, Whitehall from 11am-1pm and 5:30-7:00 pm. Masks may be required again. Any food insecure Whitehall and Coplay resident can come and receive dry food, frozen and refrigerated food, toiletries (when available), baby food, and cat/dog food for the household. ID is required i.e. valid driver’s license or utility bill showing you are a Whitehall-Coplay resident. We are always so happy to see both new and repeat attendees. Our guests are warmly welcomed and all are so happy that WCHI is providing much needed food to them.
Please encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to come on August 12th. If someone cannot come during our scheduled times -- due to working, having no transportations, etc-- please have them call me at 484-225-0358. I always make sure we work something out so everyone has food. NO ONE SHOULD GO HUNGRY especially with our WCHI programs in place for Whitehall and Coplay residents. Please encourage people in need to call me or call me yourself. We definitely are here to help.
Needed toiletry items include: bath and hand soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, sanitary napkins and pads, adult and baby diapers, and dish/clothes detergent. These items can be dropped at my Re/Max Office, 1080 Schadt Ave, Whitehall M-F 9-5, Sat 9-1, Sun 10-1.
When we opened our Food Pantry in January 2021, we served 54 Whitehall and 37 Coplay households comprised of 113 children, 141 adults, and 54 seniors (age 60+) for a total of 308 people. Our monthly totals since were steadily increasing.
Michelle Khouri, WCSD Registrar, received permission from Asst. Superintendent, Chris Schiffert, to do a robo call, text, and e-mail to all 2070 free and reduced rate breakfast & lunch recipient households to let them know about both our CSFP and our food Pantry a couple days before our July food Pantry distribution. Also, WCHI volunteers provided Pantry fliers at our CSFP the day before the Pantry distribution. Thanks to both the robo calls and the fliers, our pantry numbers soared to serving 427 people in July!!
In July, WCHI’s Pantry served 88 Whitehall and 30 Coplay households comprised of 170 children, 179 adults, and 78 seniors!! That is a 28% increase in 7 months!! WCHI will be handing out fliers again and we are hopeful Michele will be able to do another robo call next week. We pack for 144 households and hope to feed 500 Whitehall and Coplay residents next week!!
We are providing free books through August 28th at our all our CSFP sites and also provided Christmas in July toys to every child attending our sites last week. The toys were donated from Steve Parish, Financial Advisor at Edward Jones Whitehall location from his Customer Appreciation Day Party. Thank you to Steve and his clients!!!
The following is the number of total children who attended at least once time in both June and July at the CSFP location closest to their home: Cementon 9, Coplay 30, Egypt 9, Fullerton 51, Maryland Circle 58, and Mickley Run 71. Adding all the locations together, we served 228 children at least once. Some children came once and done, some came a myriad of times, others came every distribution. This was the average children attendance at each location for the eight distributions in July: Cementon 4, Coplay 9, Egypt 2, Fullerton 14, Maryland Circle 18, Mickley Run 17. Our bagged food is shelf stable and provides 4 breakfast and lunch meals on Mondays and 6 breakfast and lunch meals on Wednesday. The food will last at least for 6 months. We encourage households to attend our two weekly distributions to add our food to your P-EBT purchases for your kitchen pantry. We have the capability of serving a minimum of 500 Whitehall and Coplay children, a baby through age 18 every Monday and Wednesday from 10-11am. Our CSFP ends on August 25th. If you are working or do not have transportation, please call/text me at 484-225-0358.
Our Public Meeting held on July 27th to work on WCHI’s Free Community Meals was very well attended. We had many repeat and many new faith based organizations represented. We are adhering to both PA Dept of Agriculture (they control all the food in PA) and Feeding America (Second Harvest Food Bank) Guidelines so we can safely feed people. Some faith based entities are still shut down, some are partially open and, others are fully open. With the rise in the Corvid Delta variant cases in the Lehigh Valley, we are all making sure everyone is safe before opening inside. If we can open this fall, our meals may need to be “Drop and Go” hot boxed meals. We will have more info for you on the meals by the end of August.