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!!!