KINGSTON TWP. — Milk and fresh produce are the most requested but rarely donated items to food pantries, said Jane Clements-Smith, executive director at Feeding Pennsylvania.
Fruits, vegetables and dairy products are so perishable that it is difficult for food pantries to carry them, she said.
To fill the nutritional gap, Commission on Economic Opportunity’s Weinberg Regional Food Bank along with Feeding Pennsylvania, the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program and Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association held a Fill a Glass with Hope and mobile food pantry at The Lands at Hillside Farms on Monday.
Fill a Glass with Hope is the commonwealth’s first charitable milk program that gives food pantries the ability to provide milk to the families they serve, Clements-Smith said. The program is funded through grants and corporate sponsorships.
Carol Eyet, the manager of the Back Mountain Food Pantry, said the pantry’s summer program called No More Hungry Tummies will now be able to include milk to nearly 200 families in the Dallas and Lake-Lehman school districts.
Nearly 70 Back Mountain families registered for the event, Rich Kutz, director of the Weinberg Regional Food Bank said.
Kutz watched as family after family registered and then went to check out CEO’s nutrition information table where children received a plastic cup of fresh strawberry milk.
“I would like to make this a regular event,” he said.
CEO employees unloaded boxes of onions, potatoes, apples, oranges, and even some dried goods such as walnuts and dried cranberries from a refrigerated truck for families to take home.
Seven-year-old Mikayla White along with her grandmother, Sandie Harvey, and aunt, Kimmie White, waited in the shade for their turn to pick out fresh produce.
“I like purple grapes and yellow beans,” Mikayla said, hoping that her favorites would be included in the boxes.
Harvey said they were notified about the event through the Lake-Lehman School District.
“I never came to anything like this before,” Harvey said.
The family of four recently experienced a job loss and are trying to make ends meet on a single income.
“We will do anything for Kaylie (Mikayla),” Harvey said.