Feeding Pennsylvania promotes and aids our member food banks in securing food and other resources to reduce hunger and food insecurity in their communities and across Pennsylvania.

Helping Harvest Fresh Food Bank: March – June Featured Work

June 25, 2020

Helping Harvest and The Reading Fightin Phils Team Up

The Reading Fightin Phils went to bat for their neighbors in need. The team partnered with the Helping Harvest food bank to host a pop-up food distribution at the First Energy Stadium.

Through the distribution, Helping Harvest provided as many as 300 families with food that included fresh eggs, frozen pre-packed meals and a variety of both perishable and non-perishable items.

“During this time of crisis, we are constantly looking for new ways to serve the ever-growing number of families seeking food assistance,” said Jay Worrall, Helping Harvest’s president. “Their parking lot will offer the space, and easy access, to efficiently serve hundreds of families in need in a short period of time.”

Since the COVID-19 crisis began in mid-March, Helping Harvest said it is distributing, on average, more than one million pounds of food monthly. That’s nearly twice last year’s monthly average.

Helping Harvest participated in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program

Helping Harvest started receiving food boxes for needy families as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which includes produce, meat and dairy.

Through the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the USDA is buying up $3 billion in agricultural surplus from farmers here and across the country who have been forced to dump milk and take other drastic measures because of supply-chain disruptions.

This includes more than $50 million for Pennsylvania food distributors, which will fund the purchase of surplus milk and other dairy products along with chicken, pork and fresh produce from commonwealth farmers who lost markets for their products due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea is to provide the surplus food to food banks that are struggling to meet overwhelming demand.

Jay Worrall, president of Helping Harvest, said the organization expects to get 2,000 Farmers to Families food boxes a week through October. There are four varieties: produce, deli meat, mixed dairy and fluid milk, he said.

The program is a truck to trunk model program which means that the perishable boxes are shipped quickly for immediate distribution, eliminating the need for storage. Suppliers will package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other nonprofits serving hungry people.

Sheetz and Wawa Joined Forces

During the COVID-19 pandemic, two of the largest convenience store companies in Pennsylvania worked together to provide emergency relief to Helping Harvest.

Employees from both companies recently delivered 500 lunches to Helping Harvest’s warehouse. The lunches included a turkey sandwich, cookie, fruit cup, string cheese and bottle of water.

With one of their main focuses being quarantined seniors, Helping Harvest identified senior citizens who were most in need to deliver the lunches directly to their doorsteps.

The companies also donated $2,000 each to provide hunger relief to those in need.