**Written by Gwen Herzog, Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s Vegetable Garden Chair**
It was another amazing week at our food pantry! Guests were plentiful and all were treated to a taste of vegetarian chili made with both canned and fresh vegetables that could be obtained from the pantry this month. Our great volunteers were extremely busy checking in guests, shopping with guests, filling guests’ carts with refrigerated and frozen items, restocking shelves, and pushing carts up the ramp from the pantry to guests’ cars. I like to be busy, but by nightfall, I was ready for some down time to mentally prepare for Friday…AKA seed planting day.
If you attended Family Night at Whitehall High School on Wednesday evening and happened to stop by our table, you may have seen the cabbage seedlings on display. As I wrote in my last article, our plan is to get the brassicas planted in early May and then get everything else planted after Mother’s Day. To minimize cost, we are starting our plants from seed. Of the brassica seeds planted, only the cabbage germinated. My Friday seed planting included three varieties of tomatoes, three types of sweet peppers, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, and a replanting of brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Each of the 26 containers was planted with 5-9 seeds, labeled, watered, and covered with a sheet of clear plastic to keep in the moisture and warmth to promote quick germination. This year’s seed starting is taking place in my sunroom on a 6’ folding table. You can see a photo of our seed starting project on the WCHI Facebook page.
While we are waiting for our vegetable plants to go into the ground, garden cleanup is necessary. Last week I finally cut the “grass” between the beds. I place the word “grass” in quotes because the “grass” is mostly weeds. Speaking of weeds, the beds are loaded with lots and lots of lush, green weeds. Fortunately, we still have several weeks to get these cleared before it is time to get our plants into the ground. Tom Noctor has once again offered to be chief weeder. Thanks, Tom!
This year we will also address a problem we had last year: Groundhogs! Last year it seemed these unruly critters were picking off our large tomatoes, taking a bite or two, abandoning it, and then picking another one. I’m sure it was a good time for the groundhogs, but it was frustrating for our garden team. While cutting the grass last week, I located a deep, 7” diameter groundhog hole with no visible exit. Fortunately for me, I found the hole before my foot did. I filled it with grass I scraped from under the mower deck and topped it off with weeds pulled from one of the beds, so we’ll see if the hole is still active on the next grass cutting day. We also have holes under our shed and our wide, metal fence makes it easy for any groundhog, squirrel, rabbit, etc. to freely enter and exit the garden. In our shed I found some additional, temporary fencing that can be attached to the bottom of the metal fence. We will try this as a critter barrier this year, close the groundhog holes, and cross our fingers that no other action will need to be taken to preserve our garden. I will keep you updated on our endeavors in future articles. Wish us luck!
I hope your seed planting and garden prep is going well! Keep us in mind if you have any extra plants to share and if you have any available time to volunteer in the garden or inside the pantry. You can learn more about clearances required at https://tinyurl.com/WCHIforms Happy May!!
WCHI is pleased to announce that at the end of April, we have been providing our Whitehall-Coplay low-income residents INSIDE Food Pantry distributions for 1 full year. Time sure does fly!!
From January 2021 through April 2022 our selfless volunteers pre-packed all our food distribution items. We had multiple tables outside in the St John the Baptist parking lot with each table offering a different food type or toiletry items on our distribution days. Two lines of cars came through the parking lot for both our morning and evening distributions. Every guest received the same bagged items throughout the whole production line.
WCHI opened our inside Food Pantry distributions on May 12, 2022. Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB) is affiliated with 40 Food Pantries in Lehigh County and over 200 Pantries in a 6-county area. SHFB designated WCHI to be one of three Food Pantries in Lehigh County to be classified as a Healthy Choice Food Pantry, which includes providing guests with choices of low salt and low sugar items.
On distribution days, our guests have pre-scheduled appointments. Volunteers register each household. Our volunteers then walk our guests through the Pantry with a shopping cart – just like they are in a grocery store. The guests select their food items, and their bagged items are then placed into our guest’s car.
The number of items provided is based on the total number of people living in the household. Each household can select from canned fruit and vegetables; protein like canned tuna, chicken, salmon, beans & peanut butter; rice/pasta; ready to eat foods like Chef-Boyardee: cereal; grains; condiments; coffee; snacks; baby food; refrigerated food like milk, eggs, & cheese; frozen food; fresh produce; and personal hygiene products. Sometimes we have dog and cat food. All items are while they are available and while supplies last.
WCHI’s Mission is to alleviate Food Insecurity in Whitehall and Coplay. Truly, many people that live in our area are hungry and some have little or no food. I have witnessed this myself. Please note our 1st Quarter 2023 Pantry attendance below. We are feeding almost 1,000 people a month. No one should be hungry or be without food. If you or someone you know needs food, please call 484-225-0358 to schedule an appointment. Please help us help them.
We need the following food items: canned peaches, chickpeas, and tuna; 1-lb bagged rice or rice sides; boxed mac & cheese and pasta. Food can be dropped or shipped to my Re/Max Unlimited Real Estate office, 1080 Schadt Ave, Whitehall PA 18052 - Monday through Friday 9am-5pm. Our office staff no longer works on the weekends.
Monetary donations are also appreciated. Checks are payable to WCHI and can be dropped or mailed to Shari Noctor at the Re/Max Unlimited address above.
**Submitted by Gwen Herzog, Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s Vegetable Garden Chair**
Weeds are amazing plants! They grow when there is rain, they grow when there is drought, and some of them even grow throughout the dead of winter. I have noticed in my own garden that there are lush, green weeds that took hold sometime in mid-December. Currently, these weeds are competing with the encroaching grass, also green and lush, in a competition to take over my beds. For weeks now I have been telling myself, “One of these nice days I will pull those weeds and edge the grass.” Although intermittently we have had some warm weather, my “nice day” still has not arrived.
When I bought my house, many of the beds had been previously neglected, so the yard actually went all the way up to the house. My dad helped me to get the beds cleared via shoveling and tilling. One of my friends who owns a landscape service added enriched topsoil to the beds and then we mulched to try to keep the weeds down. It worked pretty well, so the next year we added enriched soil and mulched again. Because weeding has never been my favorite part of summer, mulching remains my efficient but relatively expensive method for controlling garden weeds and keeping watering to a minimum. Eighteen years later, my beds are amazing.
In my last article I shared with you that the Pantry Garden is located on part of the Mickley-Prydun Farm. While I am relatively new to the Whitehall area, many of you are probably familiar with this farm and you may have had the opportunity to eat some of the fruit, corn, and other vegetables grown on this rich farmland. When I started to volunteer at the Pantry Garden, I learned it was only the second year of the Garden’s existence. The Pantry Garden beds were absolutely loaded with weeds! One of our volunteers, Tom Noctor, pitchforked the beds to remove the weeds. Since the garden was still so new, it was understandable that the weeds and grass still held a stronghold, and it would take time to tame it.
Fortunately, last year we had an amazing group of volunteers that spent one hour each Tuesday evening weeding the garden, watering as needed, and picking vegetables. By routinely maintaining our beds all summer, we were successful in getting and keeping the weeds under control. As a result, our vegetable plants had plenty of space to grow and ultimately provided a large amount of produce for our Pantry guests. I anticipate that we will have lots of weeds and grass in our beds this spring, but by following the same or a similar maintenance routine as last year, we will get our beds into tip-top shape. Don’t forget, garden volunteers are always needed! No experience is necessary, but you must have your clearances. You can learn more about obtaining clearances at the Whitehall Coplay Hunger Initiative website at www.whitehallcoplayhungerinitiative.org.
THANK YOU!! A huge shout out and thank you goes to all our fabulous Volunteers, our monetary and food Donors, Second Harvest Food Bank, Diocese of Allentown and St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, Lehigh County Commissioners for approving CDBG grants, Whitehall Township and Coplay Borough, Hokey Fire Department and Fire Hall members and volunteers, WCSD, and all the Whitehall-Coplay and Catholic School clubs and Lehigh Valley businesses that do food and toiletry drives for us. We could not do our programs without your support!! We are so blessed to have such a great group of interested and dedicated people all working together to help our community.
BINGO - WCHI will be offering bingo at St Peter Roman Catholic Church, 4 South 5th St, Coplay April 2nd on Palm Sunday. Doors will open at 1pm and bingo starts at 2pm. Please mark your calendars. Fabulous food is available to purchase. Children are allowed to play if accompanied by an adult. $15 entry fee buys you 2 bingo boards with four games. Each additional board is $1 each and a pack of 5 specials are $5. Bingo chips and dabbers are available for purchase on site and through Amazon or Jackpot Amusements, 5827 Colony Dr, Bethlehem 610-837-9240. This is our last WCHI bingo until September 10th. Questions and reservations, please call Liz Rodgers, Program Chair, 484-274-6687
FREE COMMUNITY MEALS -- WCHI, partnering with the Faith-Based Community and others, are proud to provide these FREE meals to low-income Whitehall-Coplay households twice a month. All are welcome to attend both meals on the 1st Sunday and 3rd Tuesday each month from 4:00-6:00pm. Meals are guaranteed for the first 100 guests and will be an inside sit-down meal at the host locations. There are no more takes out meals. WCHI will post a meal reminder on Facebook and Instagram and send a text to out Pantry guests.
We do not have a meal on April 2nd due to the Palm Sunday Holiday. Our next free meal is on Tuesday,
April 18th at Redeemed Christian Church of God, 5 N 3rd St, Coplay 610-262-8993. Questions about hosting a meal for 2024 or guests wanting more info, please call Karen Haberern, Program Chair, at 610-730-3184.
FOOD DRIVES—THANK YOU to our local Community members who have done or who currently are hosting food drives for WCHI with their friends, churches, housing subdivisions, service clubs, businesses, youth groups, boys & girl scouts, schools, etc. You can too!! Please call 484-225-0358 or register your food drive at https://tinyurl.com/WCHIdrive so we are aware and can thank you.
MONETARY DONATIONS--are appreciated and can be made payable to Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative, C/O Shari Noctor, 1080 Schadt Ave, Whitehall, PA 18052. Please put in the memo section where you want your donation applied. The Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative is a 501 (c) (3) IRS approved nonprofit organization and your donation may be tax deductible. Please discuss with your financial advisor.
OUR SOCIALS--Please visit our website https://tinyurl.com/WCHIhome; Like us on Facebook https://tinyurl.com/WCHIfb Follow us on Instagram https://tinyurl.com/IGWCHunger .
Questions, call Susan, Communications Chair, 610-440-1659.
When I grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, many people volunteered their time to help people through their churches and social organizations. When I first started working in the 1980’s, my employer at that time, strongly suggested that each employee select a community project and provide community service hours. This was not mandatory, but many of us did volunteer a couple hours a month.
As the years moved on, I have seen less people volunteering and many have totally gone away from volunteering altogether. People’s lives are busier than when I grew up, but the need for volunteerism is still strong. I am happy that the schools require community service hours.
Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative is a 100% volunteer organization. We could never do any of our programs that help our Whitehall and Coplay residents without our Volunteer’s continued support, time, and talents. Our volunteers are a wonderful group of selfless people. And they all are really nice and work well together!!
Would you be able to help WCHI help others? All our volunteers must have state required criminal background clearances since we work with children. For a full list of our requirements and to register, please go to our website https://tinyurl.com/WCHIvolunteer Questions, e-mail Sylvia Lee, Program Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org
I googled to see what benefits occur when people volunteer, and this info is from https://tinyurl.com/42avw7u2 Once on the site you may need to scroll up. The site is Helpguide.org and you may need to type in Volunteer.
“WHY VOLUNTEER? - With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.
Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.
VOLUNTEERING CONNECTS YOU TO OTHERS - One of the more well-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping out with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. And volunteering is a two-way street: It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS AND CONTACTS - One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. It strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities.
INCREASE YOUR SOCIAL AND RELATIONSHIP SKILLS - While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests. Once you have momentum, it's easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts.
VOLUNTEEREING AS A FAMILY - Children watch everything you do. By giving back to the community, you'll show them firsthand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help other people and animals and enact change. It's also a valuable way for you to get to know organizations in the community and find resources and activities for your children and family.”
WCHI CHOICE PANTRY --We are located at St John the Baptist Church, 3024 S Ruch St, Whitehall. Our Pantry is open on both the 2nd and 3rd Thursday of the month from 9:30am-1pm and from 4:30-7pm. This is by appointment only and we close promptly at 1pm and 7pm.
Requirements: We serve Whitehall Twp and Coplay Boro residents. Please present two forms of ID to verify residency (a valid photo ID, if available, and/or utility bills). Income limits apply per the household size. For example: a household size of one person can have monthly income of $2,095 or less to qualify; a household of four people can have monthly income of $4,278 or less to qualify. No income paperwork is required. Please call 484-225-0358 to schedule your appointment.
Whitehall and Coplay residents can only visit once a month. First time attendees, come to the parking lot behind the Church and a volunteer will give your directions. For our guests, who have mobility issues, don’t worry. A WCHI volunteer will shop for you and bring the food to your car in the Church parking lot. No smoking is permitted anywhere on Church property.
WCHI is proud that Second Harvest Food Bank selected us to be one of three Healthy Food Pantry Initiatives (HPI) in Lehigh County, which offers healthier low fat and low salt products, when possible. After we register our guests, a volunteer takes them shopping though our Choice Pantry. Our guests choose from several food types: canned fruit and vegetables, protein (canned tuna, salmon, chicken, peanut butter), grains (includes rice/pasta/cereal), ready to eat food, condiments, snacks, coffee, baby food, refrigerated and frozen foods, and fresh produce. Our guests also have choices for toiletry items: baby diapers, adult diapers, feminine napkins, tissues, and toilet paper. All items are based on availability. Our guests tell us that they really like our Choice Pantry since they get to choose the items they will eat and the toiletries they will use. Questions, call Jenn Dietz, HPI Program Chair, at 717-880-8546.
SENIOR FOOD BOX PROGRAM (SFBP) offered through WCHI works to improve the health of low-income Seniors by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods. The senior food boxes do not provide a complete diet, but rather are good sources of the nutrients typically lacking in the diets of older Americans. Usually included in the 35-pound food box is: non-fat dry and shelf-stable fluid milk, juice, oats, ready-to-eat cereal, rice, pasta, dry beans, peanut butter, canned meat, poultry, or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables.
The senior box income guidelines are much lower than the Pantry income guidelines. The income guidelines include all the income for ALL the people living in the household. For example, a household size of 1 person can have monthly income of $1,580 to qualify for a senior box. In a four-person household, the maximum monthly income for all four people must be at or below $3,250 for the senior to receive a box. These limits just changed in March.
If there are two or more seniors living in the household and the total income is at or below the limit, each senior can have a box if they want one. Each person must fill out a separate form and everyone living in the household must be named along with their birthdates. Proof of the senior’s age is a requirement. This would be on a driver’s license. No worries if the senior does not drive. We still can qualify them. You may qualify for a Senior Box, even though you do not wish to obtain Pantry food.
WCHI is committed to helping as many low-income Whitehall and Coplay residents as possible in our area that qualify for the Senior Box Program. We also include homebound and mobility impaired residents. Please spread the word through your faith-based bulletins, and by telling your family, friends, and neighbors. Questions, call Gail, SFBP Program Chair, at 610-351-6412.
Submitted by Gwen Herzog, Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s Vegetable Garden Chair
As a vegetable gardener, for me, the saddest day of the year is putting my garden to bed in the fall when the forecast of frost looms. My parents come over to help me remove all the vegetables still on the vine, pull the plants, and get the cages, stakes, and ties stored away. It always amazes me how many end-of-season vegetables we remove, box, and stack in my garage for friends, neighbors, and family to pick over. In 2022, I was honored to take on the responsibility of chairing the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative’s Garden located at the Mickley-Pyrdun Farm. The WCHI garden was also put to bed last October providing me with a second sad day.
Vegetable gardening has been a part of my life since I was a kid. My parents had a garden in our yard that expanded throughout my childhood. I helped my mom pick, clean, freeze, and can vegetables that would feed our family throughout the fall, winter, and spring. When I worked in West Virginia my landlords allowed me to use the flower beds around the house to grow a vegetable garden. When I returned to Pennsylvania and purchased my house in Whitehall, I continued the practice of using the flower beds around the house to grow vegetables. My mom once told me my house needed curb appeal. I told her I didn’t care, I wanted to grow vegetables. She, along with other family, friends, neighbors, and the Pantry now enjoys sharing my garden bounty all summer long.
Did you know that our Pantry will gladly accept any fresh extra produce you would like to share with our Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative Community? Our guests like to cook and gratefully accept fresh vegetables and fruit when they visit our Pantry. Vegetables and fruit are also used and shared at our Free Community Meals. When planning your garden for 2023, why not plant an extra plant or even an extra row for our WCHI Pantry? Your donated bounty may be dropped off at Shari Noctor’s Re/Max Unlimited Real Estate office, 1080 Schadt Ave, Whitehall. Feel free to reach out on our WCHI website, Facebook page, or call/text me directly at 610-379-6823 to arrange for pickup of your extra produce.
Another way you can help our Pantry provide fresh vegetables to our guests this summer is to help at our WCHI Garden. We need volunteers to help plant, water, weed, harvest, cut grass, and weed whack. No experience is needed, but clearances are required. Last year despite a late start, we had a very successful year! We harvested: 89 zucchini, 263 eggplants, 503 peppers, 127 bags of grape/cherry tomatoes, 24 cucumbers, 7 bags of string beans, 8 large tomatoes, and 5 heads of cauliflower. Many of these vegetables went to households at our Children’s Summer Feeding Program and the rest were shared on our monthly Pantry distribution days. For 2023, we are planning to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, and squash. Indoor seed planting, weeding, and vegetable bed prep will start in March.
The best day for this gardener is when the vegetable plants and string bean seeds go into the ground. It’s an exciting time filled with high expectations for what the plants will provide throughout the summer. If you are a vegetable gardener, I wish you a bounty-filled summer that you can share with others! If you have never grown a vegetable garden, why not give it a try? You can start with even just a single plant. Still not sure? Join us at the Pantry Garden and give it a try.
Since its creation in 2015, the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative (WCHI) has monitored trends impacting the community, economic policies, demographic changes, and program funding opportunities to achieve our Mission to alleviate food insecurity in Whitehall and Coplay.
Many Whitehall-Coplay residents have difficulty understanding that there truly are many of our neighbors in need of food. The WCHI Food Pantry, located at 3024 S. Ruch St. Whitehall, distributed food to 966 individuals during the month of January 2023. This number includes not only distributions during the scheduled bi-monthly food distributions, but also emergency food for families who are running out of food. We registered 17 new households. Please note that WCHI is the source for emergency food call 484-225-0358.
Many people cannot believe that close to 1,000 Whitehall-Coplay residents need supplemental food for their households. Let me assure you - this need for basic food is real, and it will get worse before it gets better. We do have many low-income residents in all areas of Whitehall and Coplay. Things happen in people’s lives. Pantry guests share financial challenges that are related to the increased cost of rent, gas, utilities, food, medications, health care, job loss, and cost of living increases in all areas. Many times, there is just not enough money remaining monthly to purchase food for the household.
As economic challenges accelerated, WCHI has reorganized its programs to best meet the needs of our community. WCHI was selected as one of three Pantries in Lehigh County by Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB) to be part of a Healthy Pantry Initiative. The emphasis is to provide healthier food choices by providing food products with lower sugar and salt. Under the guidance of SHFB, our Pantry has been able to provide an increased volume of food to each household. WCHI also is a CHOICE Pantry, where the food in our Pantry is displayed by food groups, like a grocery store. Guests now select their food based on their preferences compared to when WCHI prepared pre-bagged food. Everyone received the same bagged food items when we were doing outside distributions through April 2022.
Another initiative WCHI focused on is providing healthy food to an increased number of children. To consolidate initiatives towards this goal, the Snack Pack Pals Program and the Children’s Summer Feeding Program are now incorporated into our bi-monthly Food Pantry distributions. During our January 2023 distribution, 351 children received food. The number of children served each month has doubled from our other two previous children’s programs. And the food has more nutritional value and is of greater quantity. In addition, all low-income children (a baby through age 17) that live in Whitehall and Coplay can receive supplemental food -- including children who are home schooled, attend charter or private schools.
We know that if the children within a household are food insecure, the additional household members will also need food. This is another reason for incorporating the previous two children’s programs into the Food Pantry Program. 420 adults (ages 18-59) were given food in January from WCHI. Many people are not aware that a Food Pantry supplies only several days-worth of food for a household—not a month’s worth of food. And Pantries are not grocery stores with tons of inventory. WCHI also provides information on additional food resources, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
WCHI worked with SHFB in the fall to initiate the PA Senior Food Box Program (SFBP) at our Pantry. After approved with verified income limit eligibility for the program, the senior (ages 60+) is provided with an additional 35 lb. box of shelf stable food during their Pantry visit. 195 seniors attended our Food Pantry in January. Of the 195 seniors who attended our Food Pantry, 38 qualified Seniors also took home their Senior Box. (SFBP) Income limits to qualify are much lower than Pantry income limits. Both are set by the government.
Due to supply shortages, increased food costs, and other causes, SHFB has experienced a decrease in available Pantry inventory. WCHI Food Pantry receives 90% of our food products from SHFB. WCHI is very fortunate and grateful to have dedicated Whitehall-Coplay residents, organizations, and businesses who through their constant donations have provided funds and food product to fill the deficit in our inventory.
In 2022, WCHI purchased $8,612 in food for the Pantry. Due to today’s economy, WCHI spent over $1,800 for food the first six weeks of 2023 - almost 21% of what we spent for the entire last year. THANK YOU again to Second Harvest, Lehigh County, all the residents, organizations, and businesses that support WCHI!! We could not help so many residents without YOU!!!
Our next Free Community Meal will be hosted by St Peter Roman Catholic Church, 4 S 5th St, Coplay from 4-6pm. This is Dine-in only for the 1st 100 guests. Questions: 610-262-2417.
The last EXTRA payment for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will be sent in February. SNAP was previously known as Food Stamps. SNAP has a maximum monthly amount based on the household size and the money can only be used for food purchases. For example, a household of 1 may receive up to a maximum of $281 a month. Divide that by 31 days, this comes out to $9.06 a day. A household of 4, maximum payment is up to $938 or $7.56 a day per person; and a household of 8 is $1691 or $6.82 per person.
WCHI and all Food Pantries are expecting rising new guest registrations to occur for the next several months due to reduced SNAP income starting in March and due to the continued increases in food and gas prices. We also expect to have guests return that have not been attending on a regular basis. WCHI is currently feeding close to 1,000 people a month. WCHI, and many other agencies, are making a difference in people’s lives.
The New SNAP 2022-2023 Monthly Income Guidelines to qualify vary by household size. For example, a one-person household monthly income max is $2,266; a four-person monthly household income max is $4,626. To see if you qualify for SNAP benefits and to apply over the phone, please contact Second Harvest Food Bank 484-821-2406.
Below is from the PA Department of Human Services website https://tinyurl.com/4uunn3ak
END OF SNAP EXTRA PAYMENTS: SNAP Emergency Allotments (EAs) are an additional SNAP payment that has been paid during the second half of each month since the pandemic started in 2020. These payments were authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Starting in March 2023, SNAP households will only receive their regular SNAP payment.
IF YOU HAVE CHIDREN: SNAP recipients who are pregnant or have kids under 5 may be able to get help buying food from PA WIC. You can call 1-800-WIC-WINS or apply online at https://www.pawic.com/
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE ARE A SENIOR RECEIVING SNAP: Beyond local charitable food programs like community food pantries, there are two food assistance programs specifically in place to help seniors access fresh, nutritious foods. The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program provides eligible seniors with vouchers redeemable at more than 800 farm stands and more than 200 farmers' markets in Pennsylvania. The Senior Food Box Program can also provide eligible seniors with additional shelf-stable groceries. WCHI DOES PROVIDE SENIOR BOXES. Call Gail at 484-951-8447 for more information.
When is the final extra payment? February 2023 will be the last month EAs are sent, and SNAP households will only receive one regular SNAP payment starting in March. This change will happen automatically for all SNAP recipients.
Why are the Emergency Allotments ending? EAs are ending due to passage of the recent federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.
I have extra SNAP funds on my card. Will they expire after February 2023? No – any unspent SNAP funds roll over each month. As long as you use your EBT card regularly, your SNAP benefits will not expire. SNAP benefits only expire if you do not use your card for nine months.
How will I know if my SNAP payment is changing? This extra payment is ending for all SNAP households in March 2023. All recipients will receive a notice via mail about the change in SNAP payments and resources available if they need help because of this change.
I hope you found this information helpful. Have a great week!!
My church, St John’s Episcopal Church, Palmerton has been providing free community meals since 1976. When I started the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative (WCHI) in 2015, I already knew several pastors in Whitehall and Coplay. I had contacted every Whitehall and Coplay church and scheduled a meeting in October 2015 to plan the WCHI 2016 meals.
During this October 2015 meeting, we discussed that these sit down, dine-in meals are intended both to feed our low-income Whitehall and Coplay residents and to give them a social outlet to interact with others, if the guest chose to be social. No registration or income-limit paperwork is required. Guests just come in, sit down, and are given a hot meal. That day, all WCHI’s 2016 Free Community Meals were scheduled for the third Tuesday of each month with our Faith- Based Partners.
WCHI and our faith-based & other partners have grown over the years. Prior to Covid, we had been providing these FREE Community Meals twice a month. A huge shout out THANK YOU goes to everyone who has helped WCHI with these meals from 2015 through today. Some Partners host more than one meal a year. Our guests are truly appreciative that we offer this Outreach Program.
During covid when it was safe, we provided a “drop and go-take out meal” program. In 2023, we now returned to sit down, dine-in meals. There are no longer any take-out meals. Our community guests benefit from dine-in meals with both socialization and a nutritious hot meal. Prior to covid, dine-in meals were a huge event for our guests. It still is a social time to dine out with friends, both old and new. Several dress up for the occasion. It is ok if a guest wants to sit alone. WCHI and our Meal Host Partners are glad to be back inside to see the happiness and a sense of normalcy from our guests.
All low-income Whitehall and Coplay residents are welcome to attend both meals on the 1st Sunday and 3rd Tuesday each month from 4:00-6:00pm. Meals are guaranteed for the first 100 guests and again will be only an inside sit-down meal at the host locations. WCHI posts a meal reminder on Facebook and Instagram. And our Pantry guests also receive a meal text reminder. Also, we provide this year’s meal schedule fliers for the guest to take home. And the meals are posted on our website.
Our February Free Community Meals are:
Sunday, February 5th at St Peter Roman Catholic Church, 4 South 5th St, Coplay 610-262-2417
Tuesday, February 21st at Whitehall Bible Fellowship Church, 3300 7th St, Whitehall 610-434-8661
These quotes are from our host sites chairs and are members of WCHI.
“St Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Fullerton is honored to host Community meals every March and November. It gives us the opportunity for our parishioners to come together in good fellowship to prepare and serve a delicious meal to our community. We look forward to our March dinner and hope that many will come to enjoy the meal with us.” Mary Spieker
“Whitehall Active Community Center hosted their first Community Meal in January 2023. Being a Community Center as well as a Senior Center, we decided to give back to our local residents by offering a free Community Meal through WCHI. It was a huge success, and we hope to host more in the future.” Lana Snyder, President
“The 1st Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua has always been a family and neighborhood-oriented church committed to helping our community where needed. When asked to do a community meal for WCHI, we were glad to be able to help those who need food security and fellowship by doing what we like to do – feeding people” Sue Butchinski
“Here at the Muslim Community Center (MALV), when we host a free community meal, we see the opportunity to fulfill one of our religious duties to feed people. We cannot describe the joy and the pleasure it brings us while serving our community” Deeba Jamal hosts three meals.
“We show the love of God by our commitment to meeting the needs of the community. We thank WCHI for the privilege and the opportunity to be a blessing. We look forward to hosting three WCHI meals for the community this year.” Pastor Bola Akomolede, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Coplay
“St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church's mission statement is: Feeding People, Body, Mind and Spirit. When the opportunity arose to assist WCHI provide a Free Community Meal to local residents, we felt we could help our neighbors as well as fulfill our mission statement. We are happy to host two meals per year.” Lana Snyder
“Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (SOTH) has always had a passion for helping others. Our Church hosts regular food drives for the WCHI Food Pantry. (SOTH) hosts two Free Community Meals for WCHI every year. We are committed to serving our community.” Karen Haberern, WCHI Free Community Meal Chair 610-730-8184
WCHI also has Whitehall Bible Fellowship Church providing four meals, St John the Baptist Church providing one meal, and St Peter Roman Catholic Church providing two meals. Thank you everyone for helping WCHI feed our community!!
Have a great week!!