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Walmart awards $495,000 to fight hunger in Pennsylvania


Regional food banks to share portion of $235,000 grant; city and suburban food pantries benefit from combined $55,000 for programs to feed hungry

PITTSBURGH, Pa., Dec. 15, 2011 – Walmart and the Walmart Foundation today announced nearly half a million dollars in cash and in-kind contributions to fight hunger across Pennsylvania. The funding and support, which totals $495,000, targets several organizations working to help those in need in Pittsburgh, its suburbs and the state’s nine-county southwestern region.

“Walmart is unwavering in its commitment to help people live better, healthier lives,” said Nick Bertram, Walmart Regional General Manager for Pennsylvania. “As a company, we operate globally but give back locally, and there is no better way to do that than by providing direct support to the organizations that are working so hard to improve their communities and strengthen their neighbors in need.”

The grants were presented today during a check presentation ceremony at South Hills Interfaith Ministries in Bethel Park. The ministry received $30,000 to run its “Pantry Plus” program.

“Poverty is usually hidden in suburban communities, but all of that is beginning to change as the needs keep growing,” said Jim Guffey, executive director of South Hills Interfaith Ministries, whose pantry distributes more than 250,000 pounds of food per year.

The ministries’ pantry enables needy families to choose from a large variety of fresh breads, canned goods, frozen items, pastas, desserts and beverages twice a month. But the program goes beyond simply providing food by also offering counseling and support to help families become more self-sufficient. This includes assistance with household budgeting and referral services to help clients learn about and enroll in other programs that provide aid.

Among the unique features of the “Pantry Plus” program is the number of refugees it serves. They include Bosnians, Meskhetian Turks, Iraqis, Afghanis, Burmese, Burundians, Bhutanese, Sudanese, Congolese and others. Many of them live in Prospect Park in Whitehall Borough, where they have resettled with the aid of Catholic Charities and Jewish Family and Children’s Service, which also assist with housing, case management, acculturation and job placement.

“What you get is not always what you see,” Guffey said. “Pittsburgh’s South Hills communities are unique in that they comprise pockets of both great affluence and serious economic distress. This funding is tremendously important in helping us provide for all of those in need.”

Also attending the check presentation were representatives from Northside Common Ministries, a member of Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Located on Brighton Road in the city, Northside Common Ministries received $25,000 for its “Cooking Well with Cans” program, which helps food pantry clients learn how to cook with the products most often found in a food pantry in healthful ways. The program will engage nutrionists, nurses and chefs who will perform hands-on demonstrations, provide written materials and create video presentations that can be on display in the pantry to help clients cook healthy meals.

“The low-income community is disproportionately affected by obesity and diabetes — and clients of food pantries even more so,” said Jay Poliziani, director of Northside Common Ministries, which currently serves more than 900 food insecure individuals monthly. “We not only want to ensure we’re feeding the hungry. We also want to be sure we’re helping them eat in a manner that helps them get healthy and stay healthy.”

The curriculum designed by Northside Common Ministries ultimately will be made available to help other food pantries provide a similar service to their clients.

Both South Hills Interfaith Ministries and Northside Common Ministries receive weekly deliveries from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, a member of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, which received $235,000 — the largest grant awarded by the Walmart Foundation in the state this year. The grant will support the association’s network of 21 food banks serving food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other hunger relief organizations in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. Local affiliates of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania include:

  • Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne, Allegheny County;
  • Westmoreland County Food Bank in Delmont;
  • Greater Washington County Food Bank in Eighty Four;
  • Corner Cupboard Food Bank in Waynesburg, Greene County;
  • Fayette County Community Action Food Bank in Uniontown;
  • Indiana County Community Action Program in Indiana; and
  • Butler County Community Action and Development in Butler.

“Hunger has reached epidemic proportions in Pennsylvania,” said Hunger-Free Pennsylvania Executive Director Sheila Christopher. “Every one of our members is seeing an increase among those who rely on our facilities to provide fresh, nutritious meals for themselves and their families. This funding will enable us to continue our mission to help everyone — whether urban, suburban or rural — get the support they need to stay healthy and strong.”

In addition to the grants, two refrigerated food delivery trucks, each valued at $90,000, were donated to help Hunger-Free Pennsylvania affiliates increase families’ access to nutritious and fresh food. The trucks will support the work of Greater Berks Food Bank in Reading and Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg. Another $25,000 was donated to Channels Food Rescue in central Pennsylvania.

“Nearly 1.4 million Pennsylvanians are at risk for hunger in one of the most productive agricultural states in the northeast,” Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary George Greig said. “It’s thanks to the good work of our emergency food distribution system, volunteers and supporters that we can combat hunger, one community at a time.”

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $2 billion cash and in-kind, stepping up efforts to help end hunger in America.

All of the grants were awarded through the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program. Through this program, the Walmart Foundation supports organizations that create opportunities so people can live better. The Walmart Foundation State Giving Program strives to award grants that have a long-lasting, positive impact on communities across the United States.

Last year in Pennsylvania, Walmart stores, Sam’s Club locations and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $17.3 million in cash and in-kind donations to local organizations in the communities where they operate. Through additional funds donated by customers, and Walmart and Sam’s Club associates throughout the state, the retailer’s contributions in Pennsylvania totaled more than $19.9 million.

To be considered for support, perspective grantee organizations must submit applications through the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program’s online grant application. Applicants must have a current 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum eligibility criteria. Additional information about the program’s funding guidelines and application process are available online at www.walmartfoundation.org/stategiving.

About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support initiatives that are helping people live better around the globe. In May 2010, Walmart and its Foundation made a historic pledge of $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the U.S. The Walmart Foundation also supports education, workforce development, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness initiatives. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.

About Hunger-Free Pennsylvania
Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, formerly the Pennsylvania Association of Regional Food Banks, is a network of food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, charities and other hunger relief organizations that have been working together for 25 years to fight hunger in Pennsylvania. The network has 21 members serving all 67 counties. For more information, visit www.hungerfreepa.org.

About South Hills Interfaith Ministries
SHIM’s mission as an interfaith organization is to actively extend God’s love with dignity and respect to the people of the South Hills of Pittsburgh. SHIM is dedicated to meeting the needs of South Hills’ residents by providing the desired assistance with loving kindness and respect for the dignity, strengths and privacy needs of each Individual. SHIM’s core programs focus on three primary aspects: suburban poverty, refugee assistance and interfaith dialogue. More information is available at www.shim-center.org.

About Northside Common Ministries
Northside Common Ministries is a non-sectarian, nonprofit, community-based organization established in 1982 by a collaboration of 30 local churches to meet the increasing needs of the homeless population. An affiliate unit of Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, NCM operates the Pleasant Valley Emergency Shelter for men who are homeless, the Northside Community Food Pantry, and a Permanent Housing Program for men with disabilities. More information is available at www.ncmin.org.

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