On November 24th 2016 the Jesus Focus Ministry Food Pantry at Bethanna was featured in the Bucks County Courier Times. Below is the article courtesy of the Courier Times:
Visits to Bucks County food pantries on the rise
Joan Hellyer, staff writer
Marquea DeLoach is counting her blessings and among them is the Jesus Focus Ministry Food Pantry at Bethanna.
DeLoach said she, her husband, their adult son with autism and 10-year-old daughter are struggling to make ends meet because they have only one paycheck coming in.
She’s been visiting the Jesus Focus pantry off Second Street Pike in Upper Southampton to help cover the family’s necessities about two times a month since the family moved from Bensalem to Warminster over the summer. Each visit has warmed her heart because of the pantry’s caring volunteers and staff. “I give them a hug,” DeLoach said. “They give me a hug. It’s a great thing.”
The interaction has motivated DeLoach to not only be a client at the pantry, but also to be one of its volunteers. She was on hand Tuesday to help out as a steady stream of clients stopped by to pick up their Thanksgiving turkey, all the trimmings, plus fresh donated bread, canned vegetables and other staples, as well as pet food for their dogs and cats. DeLoach was filled with joy as she watched her fellow clients walk away with grocery carts full of food to help them through the holiday season.
Pantries throughout Bucks County are giving to an ever increasing number of visitors who seek help to feed their families, according to Heather Foor, the food program manager at the Bucks County Opportunity Council. In 2014, the pantries recorded 70,106 client visits and that total jumped to 71,041 last year. A client can visit once a year, once a month or more, depending on their situation, Foor said.
“We believe that this number is increasing due to the number of working individuals that need assistance because they still can’t make ends meet,” she said.
Jesus Focus and other pantries are able to help meet the needs of their clients primarily because of the generosity of schools, churches, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, community collection drives, area businesses and private donations, operators said. Jesus Focus volunteers and staff assisted clients on Tuesday at the same time they were accepting donations of turkeys and other goods brought in from area residents and groups.
“We have so much donated, but it goes out just as soon as it comes in,” said Karen Hamilton Derry, the chief executive officer at Bethanna, a nonprofit Christian agency that provides services to children and their families. “The need is constant.”
Approximately 62,000 Bucks County residents are identified as food insecure, which means they struggle to get enough nourishment each day, Foor said. Almost 40 percent of the food insecure in the county are children. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, 57 percent of the people who are food insecure in the county likely are not eligible for federal food assistance programs. That’s why they are dependent upon charitable contributions, Foor said.
The opportunity council provides the pantries with federal and state food, and private donations such as frozen meats from Applegate Farms, produce from Rolling Harvest Food Rescue and Delaware Valley University’s Hope of the Harvest charitable garden, she said. The BCOC also distributes food resources from Philabundance to the pantries.
In addition to those resources, the recently established Second Helping pantry off Wood Lane in Middletown takes in donated unsold Wawa sandwiches and gives them to their 66 clients who live in the Neshaminy and Pennsbury school districts.
“We are all for eliminating food wastes,” pantry Executive Director Cindy Kunnas said. “It is still good and we can get it to people who need it.”
Recruiting donors for the food pantries takes work. Just ask Dottie and Byron Rimmer, who serve as coordinator and co-coordinator, respectively, at the Food Larder pantry at the New Britain Baptist Church. They do PowerPoint presentations for community groups, schools and area residents to show them that the need for help is very real for the pantry’s estimated 800 clients.
“I will talk to anybody,” Dottie Rimmer said. “We want them to know. It could be their neighbors that are coming to our pantry and they didn’t know. People have no clue that there is such a need in our area.”
The Jesus Focus pantry relies a lot on its Facebook page to get out the word about what it needs to help serve its estimated 450-500 clients. The people who come in for help say they go to the Bethanna-run pantry for more than just the food.
“They help people out of their heart,” Lilya Rebkavets, a native of Belarus, said through her daughter, Nadya, who translated for her Tuesday as the Bensalem residents picked up their order. “It is really helpful. The staff (and volunteers are) very welcoming and very loving.”
Dick Palmer, the pantry’s treasurer and a member of its board of directors, said the volunteers and staff are glad to help. The goal is to get to the point where the pantry isn’t needed anymore because everyone has a sustainable income, he said.
“But as long as there is a need, we will be there,” Palmer said.