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.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania: March – June Featured Work

June 24, 2020

Katarah Jordan Named New Director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania

  • What made you interested in the position? Food Justice! Making a difference leveraging charity to achieve justice and redistribution of wealth.  I don’t believe anyone should go hungry in our world.  I believe nutritious meals are a right not a privilege and I know what it means to be a child where your mother works 60 hours a week and you still need assistance from time to time.
  • What was your journey like to get where you are? My journey was one of love and support.  I have a mother that worked extremely hard to make sure I had access to all of the opportunities to help me break generational curses and build strong generational legacies.  I was not born into much privilege but hard work and networking was instilled in me from a young age. I’ve worked to overcome the barriers of racism, ageism, and sexism as a young Black woman in America. 
  • What do you hope to achieve in this position? I hope to center the conversation on food inequity and compassion. To take the focus away from charity to justice, I hope to leverage my position to address structural issues such as food access, education, and discrimination.
  • What is your favorite thing about (working at) Second Harvest? That I have a powerful team in place.  It is really a well-oiled machine that provides me the space to create a vision of wellness for our community in partnership with a team that will work diligently to operationalize it and bring it to fruition.   
  • What’s one thing you wish people knew about hunger and poverty? That it’s generational and that structural barriers contribute to reinforcing it.  It’s not as simple as pulling one’s self up by your bootstraps but requires a community of opportunity and support to escape poverty and hunger. 
  • What’s one thing you wish people knew about you? I am a certified Master Gardener and my passions lie in the soil. If I could teach anything it would be to teach people to grow their own food.
  • What are you really into outside of work? My family comes first! I spend time in my garden daily and fit traveling in as much as possible. I love and support my community with my time and talents through volunteering.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and NEPA Went Virtual

This year marked the fourth annual Food Truck Food Drive hosted by WFMZ and Dorney Park, benefitting Second Harvest. The event was set for April 25th, but things ended up a little different this year.

WFMZ General Manager, Barry Fisher, says, “While we couldn’t hold our Food Truck Food Drive in person as we normally do, we knew the need for feeding our community was high, so we went virtual instead.”

WFMZ and Dorney Park set up a GoFundMe page and the response from the community was incredible. The page raised $43,000 for Second Harvest. Fisher says, “We are overwhelmed by the generosity and support of our viewers!”

Donors left notes on the GoFundMe page. Some told us they donated in honor of a loved one’s birthday, some said that they were donating their stimulus check, others told us there were times when they needed some extra help and now they are glad to be able to give back.

WFMZ and Dorney Park also contributed corporate donations to make this year’s event even more impactful. The funds came at a critical time. The COVID-19 crisis hit Second Harvest hard, but this sincere showing of support from the community is a great bright spot.

Record Highs at Bethlehem’s Northeast Community Center

“Our goal is for everyone to have food and for no one to go hungry,” says Northeast Community Center (NECC) Executive Director, Paula Johnson.

NECC is a nonprofit social service agency located in the Marvine-Pembroke housing development, the largest low-income housing development in Bethlehem, with almost 2,000 residents, all of whom are at or below the poverty level. Along with myriad of other programs, NECC operates an emergency food pantry. NECC is one of Second Harvest’s 200+ member agencies.

NECC’s food pantry extended its hours of operation during the COVID-19 crisis to become a hub for Second Harvest, distributing our emergency boxes. Paula says, “Before the pandemic began, clients were able to enter the pantry and choose their food items; however, now for the safety of staff and clients, we now communicate via the intercom and bring packed grocery bags to clients at the door.”

“Our food pantry remains open and continues to be a critical, life-sustaining program.”

Typically, NECC distributes 2,000 pounds a week. During the COVID-19 crisis, the food pantry has been distributing more than 8,000 pounds each week, serving more families than ever before. From March to May, NECC served more than 1,000 families, which is 50% more families than they would typically serve. A mother who recently used the food pantry stated, “I have been trying to get food delivered from a grocery store for several weeks with no luck. I am so glad I found this pantry – my kids are so hungry.”

Rallying Together in Carbon County

Carbon County Commissioner, Rocky Ahner, has been a frequent flyer at Second Harvest, coming down to pick-up food and emergency boxes for Shepherd House, a system of nine food pantries in Carbon County. During the COVID-19 crisis, we extended our “Free Friday” fresh and perishable food distribution program to Saturdays as well. Several times, Rocky has made a double-trip, loading up his van, driving up to drop off the food and then heading right back to Second Harvest for more.

“As a commissioner, I feel like it’s one of my duties.”

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Shepherd House has distributed more than 2,000 of Second Harvest’s emergency food boxes during their drive-through events at five local high schools. Rocky says, “The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced to me what a great area we live in. Everyone rallied together to respond quickly to meet the needs of the community. We couldn’t have distributed the emergency boxes without the help of our many volunteers, including school superintendents to unemployed concrete workers.”