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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 Northwest Pennsylvania: March – June Featured Work

June 25, 2020

Chef-made Meals Distributed in Erie County

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in major economic and social impacts. Due to social distancing guidelines, many states ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants. With shelter orders in place throughout the country, there were shortages of supplies and volunteers for communities that need to rely on the bandwidth and resources of Operation BBQ Relief.

Through the pandemic, Operation BBQ Relief was created to reverse restaurant closures, put employees back to work, and provide free meals to the local community each day. Through Operation BBQ Relief,  restaurants receive a small stipend to participate which facilitated rehiring of some of their laid-off employees. The program also provided the food and some of the necessary supplies to cook a specific number of meals per day for a specific number of days. In collaboration with national and local organizations, meals have been distributed to the homeless, veterans, first responders, healthcare workers, and families.

More than 1,200 families in five Erie County school districts received meals from the partnership between Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania and the Operation BBQ Relief initiative.

The food bank worked with local school districts to provide families in need with a box of four pre-packaged containers. Each box contains enough food to provide 16 meals for a family of four.

The meals were prepared by participating Pittsburgh- and Philadelphia-area restaurants, caterers, and hotels.

Second Harvest Continued to Serve Communities through Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented need throughout the world. In McKean County, and throughout its coverage area, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania has risen to the occasion.

“Unfortunately, we have seen many new households being served in the months since the COVID-19 crisis started,” said Second Harvest CEO Karen Seggi. “This is reflective of the challenges many are facing during this pandemic. Food insecurity is a problem year-round, but it has become especially prevalent during the current crisis.”

Second Harvest serves an 11-county area and is the largest hunger relief agency in the region.

“From Jan. 1, 2020, through May 31, 2020, we have distributed 139,862 meals to those in need throughout McKean County,” said Grace Hallowell, spokesperson.

It is anticipated that the COVID-19 crisis will cause unemployment numbers to rise in the region, and officials with the food bank said they are positioned to serve the anticipated increase in need for food.

Highmark provides $50,000 grant to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania

Through the $50,000 donation, the grant will fund 2,300 boxes of food, which include canned vegetables, pasta and sauce, pancake mix, oatmeal, canned fruit, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and other items.

Highmark also worked with the Erie County Department of Health to provide food boxes to some of the families the health department quarantines to address the food issues those families are experiencing.