I would like to take this opportunity to THANK ALL our wonderful volunteers who give so much of their time and talents to help fulfill WCHI’s Mission: To alleviate food insecurity in Whitehall and Coplay. One of our programs is our Food Pantry, which provides food the 2nd Thursday of every month.
WCHI’s Pantry is in the Christ the King School on the St John the Baptist Church property, 3024 S Ruch St, Whitehall. Since January 14, 2021, due to Covid, we have officially been providing food from the parking lot every month from 11am-1pm and 5:30-7 pm. All along we planned on having inside pantry distributions. Again, due to covid, we had to postpone bringing the operations inside twice in both September and again in January.
One of our volunteers orders 3,000-6000 pounds of food every week from Second Harvest. Another volunteer goes to Second Harvest to bring the food to the Pantry. And we are super thankful several volunteers unload all the cases of food and bring them down the basement steps into our Pantry. We are also grateful for public donations, too. The food is them separated and placed at various locations in our Pantry. A volunteer also goes to the Center for Animal Health and Welfare once a month to pick up dog and cat food.
Our Pantry was set up like a food warehouse with food located at specific locations on pallets and then the food was moved to rolling racks. For these monthly distributions, volunteers had to bag a minimum of 300 bags of food for several food stations throughout our distribution production line. For example, there may be 8 food stations. Each station had several food items in that one bag per station. And every guest received the same food at station 1. Station 2 had totally different food, but again 300 bags had been prebagged, and so on and so on until the guest finished our distribution table line and exited the parking lot onto Chestnut St.
The morning of these distributions, all this food had to be manually brought out of the basement, up steps, and put into shopping carts. The carts were then rolled down the driveway to the corresponding tables in the parking lot that the specific food needed to be stationed at. This whole operation was labor intensive. The guests all received 7 or 8 bags of different food items, but every guest went home with the same food as the household before and after them.
Thankfully, after an 18 month wait, WCHI finally received approval to open our “CHOICE” Pantry for May 12th. During our April 14th distribution, every household that attended was given an appointment card with an agreed specific time to come to the Pantry. We also mailed a postcard to every household who attended our Pantry during January through March 2022. Guests were told they needed to have a scheduled appointment to attend last week. We received many calls last week verifying appointment times and scheduling new ones for the guests who were not at the April distribution.
We officially opened our inside “CHOICE” Pantry on Thursday, May 12th from 9:30am-7pm. Our guests now come inside our Pantry during their scheduled time, get registered, and are paired with a volunteer to physically go shopping for food on a specific route throughout the Pantry. We have rolling racks set up like store shelves with specific food items on them. The amount of food a guest can take is based on the number of people in their household. After they selected their food, another volunteer takes the shopping cart to the guest’s car and helps unload it. Our guests now have the luxury of selecting the food items that they will eat and do not have to take food that they won’t eat (like the prebagged ones in April).
Last week’s Pantry transition was a huge success. Thankfully, we also had great sunny weather. Our guests were happy with the food they selected. We served 216 households, both 332 children, 332 adults, and 138 seniors for a total of 802 people. We had 46 households that were registered but were no shows. We did receive several calls, voicemails, and texts on Thursday, but could not handle the volume of calls while completing Thursday’s distribution process. Our guests can call 484-225-0358 to schedule an appointment for June 9th, but we cannot handle changes or calls the day of the distribution.
Again, WCHI could never do a project of this magnitude without all the many, many hours of hard work and dedication by our selfless volunteers. They do all this from the goodness in their hearts and they are so happy to be helping so many Whitehall and Coplay residents. Thank you again to all our volunteers!! You are WCHI!!