22 million pounds of food.
11 SW Pennsylvania counties.
2,500 new households per month.
380+ member agencies, including smaller food banks.
Ensuring that our neighbors and their families have basic needs of life met.
That is what the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank does for our communities.
For many people the name “food bank” is recognizable, but it’s like a lot of things in our society- you think of the it as something that’s just always been there. For people you don’t know. Or maybe you identify it as a government agency that gives out food. You might think it is self-supporting and doesn’t need your help. You’d be wrong.
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank(GPCFB) is not a government-run agency. Based in a LEED-certified “green” warehouse, it is a non-profit organization founded on the simplistic, yet monumental idea that we should worry about our neighbor’s basic needs. It’s arrival 30 years ago came from and inspires a passion for change, a call to serve. A need to fill.
So you think now, what can I possibly do? Or you say, someone else will do it. It’s not my problem. I don’t have time. My bills are high too, how can I donate? Maybe you’re so jaded with the thought that ‘things never change, so nothing I do will make a difference anyway’.
What if Joyce Rothermel, co-founder and CEO of GPCFB had said that back in 1980? Where would the hungry in the greater Pittsburgh area be now? Statistics say that 1 in 9 Pennsylvanians (statistics from the GPCFB reports 1 in 7 people in our region) are hungry or “food insecure”- meaning they don’t have the resources to ensure that a healthy meal can go on the table consistently. Somewhere in your town, on your street, and in your school’s there are hungry families.
Hunger is prevalent everywhere. Growing up in a rural community, those who struggle to provide a meal think that people living in the larger towns or the city fare better than they do. Those that live in the city assume that rural areas aren’t afflicted with the same hunger issues as they are. The grass is not greener on either side. All ages, social statuses, residential areas, and employment circumstances face the stress of an empty table.
Now imagine there was nowhere to fill the nutritional gap; no one to motivate us into action; no programs or standards to make feeding our friends, family, coworkers, neighbors a priority. Strip away your political affiliations and preconceived notions of people who receive food and other assistance and think of your daughter, brother, best friend or team coach going to bed hungry each night.
Thankfully, we have somewhere to turn that keeps up on the latest information, has designed and implemented award-winning programs and structured the efficient distribution of donated items. The mission of the GPCFB “is to feed the hungry in southwestern Pennsylvania through a network of partners and to mobilize our region to end hunger.” As Joyce Rothermel shared with me in the interview at the Empty Bowls dinner, “…the most vulnerable people in our society have to be taken care of…and (we must ensure) that the level of funding that we have is sufficient for them to take care of their basic needs.”
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has a 3 decade history of helping people in need. It is more than a mission, though. It is an attitude- of compassion, of service and of healing. Reviewed by members, donors and recipients at www.greatnonprofits.org, one can see that the people who enable the GPCFB to support it’s mission are feeding not just the body’s need, but that of the human spirit as well.
Talking to those at GPCFB, the one thing that is emphasized repeatedly is the word community in the title. The food bank serves the community and is always in need of volunteers, donations and the shared voice of individuals in the counties it assists. It’s easy to not think about the time, effort, organization, dedication and proactive stance it took to start and maintain a vast-encompassing organization like GPBFC. The really hard work has been done. With small acts from each of us we can further the reach and impact. We just need to become part of the Community. Be active, be involved and be supportive of the mission and help “end hunger in our lifetime.” There are simple things to do right from your computer, too. Find out more about how you can help at GPCFB’s website.
Simply Put- Countless people’s lives are enriched through the efforts of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
As promised in the last post, Sharing Makes the World Go ‘Round, I’m highlighting a few of the people I’ve found or met who have simple ways to change the world around us.
For those of you who want to become involved but don’t have a lot of time or have a fear of commitment, try these:
ItStartsWith.Us is the concept of Nate St. Pierre. In about 15 minutes a week you can make a positive impact on someone’s life. Nate sends out a weekly e-mail with a short mission to those that have signed up to help “make a difference in the lives of those around them.” As he says on the site, there’s no pressure to do the weekly missions.
Out of ItStartsWith.Us came a subgroup called Love Bomb where those who have signed up learn about someone dealing with a hard time. They direct members to that persons blog and together they “drop a love bomb” in words of encouragement, healing and help in the comments section of the blog.
On top of those two ideas from ItStartsWith.Us, there is now Love Drop, recently launched as a micro-giving program where members can donate $1 and the money is given to an individual in need.
I only know Nate through his tweets and e-mails, but he and his Love Bomb and Love Drop team really have awesome projects and even more awesome attitudes.
Another inspiring place I have come across is More Than Purpose, founded by Nikki Junker. The purpose is to raise awareness of human trafficking,but as you’ll see it’s more than that. You will be surprised by what you learn at the site. Join together to abolish slavery, speak and fight for those who can’t and create a world that is truly free. More women and children are sold into slavery for sex than any of us realize. You can actively join this mission by becoming part of Operation Purple Squirrel. Check it out on twitter @OpPrpleSquirrel
Need more encouragement? Looking for some secret friendly spy missions? How about this one:
Secret Agent L, Laura Miller, from Pittsburgh came up with an idea along with her #2 Agent, Vivian to specialize in Random Acts of Kindness. I’ve been fortunate to meet and get to know both her and Vivian and they are very special people with an idea that any one of us can do.
The goal is to spend $5 or less (“free is good,” says Laura) and secretly place a gift for an unknown recipient without giving away your identity. Which is just inherently cool.
Secret Agent L now has Affiliated Agents from all over the world.You can do one mission or you can do many.
Now, you can’t say you didn’t know how to help. I’ve given you a start. I’ll post more great places that need people like you. Please share with me if you know of a group or organization like these that the world needs to know about. Let me know if you check out any that I posted and decide to join. Leave a comment, drop me an e-mail, or mention it on Twitter @mcb1219
Simply put- Around the world there are many good people and they all make the world go ’round.