(WHTM) — Food Banks do the heavy lifting by filling the pantries of people in need. But what happens to the food is another story.
Ending hunger isn’t just about having access to food. “At the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank about 70% of the foods that we offer are what we call ‘foods to encourage’ which are your healthy items: produce, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables,” Jennifer Sands of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank said.
152,000 people every month are taking advantage of what the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank serves. “While that need has leveled off a little bit since the beginning of the pandemic where it increased by 40% right off the bat, it’s leveled off but we are still facing higher demand than we did in 2019,” Sands said.
As the Communications and Marketing Manager, Sands says no one should have to choose between food and other necessities. “Our territory is wide here at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank but our impact is local and that’s because of partners like the Salvation Army who are doing that work directly with clients,” Sands said.
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Work to teach people self-efficacy. “We are in the family table teaching kitchen right now. This is an eight-station teaching kitchen that provides free health and cooking classes to the community,” Meghan Zook, community health and nutrition administrator said. Making sure families know what to do with the food they receive. “We bring people in here. We have an instructor station at the front and we show them how to cut an onion, how to easily cut a bell-pepper, and how to make something really quickly in one pot that’s like something they can do at home,” Zook said.
Zook also says it’s about showing people that cooking can be easy, fun, and affordable. For those who don’t want to come in person or it doesn’t fit their schedule, the Salvation Army offers meal kits. Giving families the tools to succeed, stay full, and stay healthy.