Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative (WCHI) has come a long way from August 2014 when I first attended a Communities that Care (CTC) meeting and became the chairperson to address Hunger in Whitehall and Coplay. Even today, many residents do not realize that Whitehall and Coplay still have many food-insecure adults, children, and seniors. It would be wonderful if everyone had food in their homes. But I know that not everyone does. If you know a family member, neighbor, friend, or you yourself need food, WCHI is here to help.
In October 2015, a separate division of the CTC was established called the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative (WCHI). Partnering with local faith-based organizations, WCHI began providing free community meals the third Tuesday of each month, for community residents who would benefit from socialization and nutrition.
WCHI has now expanded to include two free meals a month. All are welcome to attend both meals on the 1st Sunday and 3rd Tuesday from 4:00-6:30pm. Meals are guaranteed for the first 100 guests. WCHI will post site requirements on Facebook for each meal a couple days before. The next meal will be on Sunday, August 7th at Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley (MALV), 1988 Schadt Ave, Whitehall Questions, call Karen 610-730-3184
WCHI broke away from Communities that Care and became a separate entity in 2016. WCHI strongly believes in CTC and still has representation at their meetings.
In 2017, WCHI secured our 501c3 tax status. WCHI also provided a 10-week free summer breakfast camp for food insecure school age children at St John’s Lutheran Church, 835 3rd St, Whitehall and at Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Coplay. In 2018, additional summer breakfast camps were added.
Currently, we do a Children’s Summer Feeding Program for any Whitehall and Coplay household with children aged a baby through 18 every Monday and Wednesday 10-11 am at four locations: St Johns Lutheran, Mickley Run Apartments at the 350 building, 1 Maryland Circle all in Whitehall and RCCG in Coplay. Bagged food is provided both days. Registration is required. This program will end on August 24th. Questions, call Sue at 484-767-6022.
In 2020, WCHI started a vegetable garden at the Mickley-PrydunFarm. More on our garden in a future article.
In 2020, Covid-19 closed everything down. WCHI quickly created a Community Outreach Program (COP) which provided food to children, adults, and seniors residing in Whitehall and Coplay. WCHI opened two locations – our original two for the summer breakfast program – St John’s Lutheran and RCCG. We provided several prebagged food for each household every other Thursday from March through October 2020 until daylight savings time forced us to close evening operations due safety for our guests and volunteers.
WCHI knew we needed to find a permanent pantry location and started searching in the late spring of 2020. We wanted to be in the middle of Whitehall Twp and close to Coplay. In the meantime, Jeff Warren, a Whitehall Twp Commissioner, told me about a Cares grant application available through Lehigh County. We applied for this grant in anticipation of finding a location. We were able to secure a Pantry location thanks to St John the Baptist Church in their Christ the King School, 3024 S Ruch St, which is in the middle of Whitehall. Unbelievably, Coplay Boro is across the Street!!
Due to Covid, we held the Grand Opening of our Pantry for outside food distribution on January 21st, 2021 (the 2nd Thursday of the month) 10:30-1 and 5:30-7. We remained outside through the April 2022 distribution. WCHI had received clearance in February (depending on future Covid numbers) to move indoors in May.
On May 12th we opened our CHOICE Pantry inside and had all our guests arrive at their scheduled time. We were open from 9:30 straight through 7 pm. Our guests are registered and then paired with a volunteer who helps them select the foods that they will eat. The Pantry is set up like a store.
Due to the volume of Whitehall and Coplay households we are serving, WCHI is now open both the 2nd and 3rd Thursdays of the month from 9:30-1pm and 4:30-7pm. August 11th is completely booked. Available appointments are now being scheduled for August 18th. Please call 484-225-0358 sooner than later to guarantee your appointment.
Have a great week.