HANOVER TOWNSHIP, PA - Here in the Bethlehem area, about 15 percent of families live below the poverty line. And with 1 in 6 children living in food insecure households, organizations like Feed the Children step up to help combat hunger globally and locally.
“Everybody loves a food truck so I invited these two trucks out and invited the community, the industrial park and teachers and volunteers that help us. I thought it was a great way to let people know what we do here,” says Feed the Children’s Beth Baier, “We pack boxes for the northeast United States so everything we pack here stays in that area and we also service your local food pantries, soup kitchens and things like that by giving them pallets of food.”
At their Bethlehem distribution center in Hanover Township, the non-profit transformed their parking lot into a pop up food festival; complete with local food truck vendors like Phillipsburg New Jersey’s Bob-B-Q Sliders and Sides…
“I just wanted to be apart of it and do something for the community,” explains Bob-B-Q Slides and Sides’ owner Jason Correll, “We try to help out everyone that we can in addition to the other things that we do as far as caterings and festivals and what not. So we want to give back when we can.”
…and Bally Pennsylvania’s OMG Smoothies.
“I go around with my mobile food unit all throughout the Lehigh Valley area and Philadelphia as well, providing good for you smoothies and organic smoothies that you can add in different things in there to make them even better for you,” says OMG Smoothies owner Maria King, “I have things with fresh greens, mostly organic fruits; organic pineapples, organic strawberries or mangoes, fresh bananas.”
Both area eateries feeding employees across the Commerce Way Industrial park are donating 10 percent of their sales back to the non-profit dedicated to ending childhood hunger.
“It feels really good that I can come out and do this” King says, “Back to basics, communities back the biggest difference in our lives and without communities we can’t move forward in life so whether it be a big organization like this to help the smaller communities, or even the smaller businesses or not for profits, they all help communities little by little and it’s such a good cause.”
Outside, a table of information was made available to visitors about how to get involved with local and national efforts to combat hunger. But inside, Feed the Children’s Teacher Store is helping area teachers just in time for the new school year.
Feed the Children volunteer Gilbert Greir says, “We hear a lot of stories from the teachers that families aren’t doing that well so to be in this area and be able to feed families and to give back to the community, it’s excellent.”
Here, teachers from across 12 Lehigh Valley title one school districts and some from New Jersey, pick up books and supplies from August to May at zero cost to them. Considering, the average teacher spends nearly $500 ($479: source: National Teacher and Principal Survey) of their own money each school year on everything from books to pencils and tissues for their students, the Teacher Store is a big help.
“Every parent gets the list of things that they need for their school year to start,” explains Baier, “We hope to help not only the teachers but the parents as well. So this will hopefully lessen the things that the parents have to buy and hopefully you know, really lessen what the teachers have to put in of their own money.”
Feed the Children Volunteer Engagement Supervisor, Beth Baier says, their goal today is just to help Bethlehem families get the food and resources they need. Letting others know the non-profit is here to help, is just another great side effect.
“This past Wednesday, we had our second shopping day so it’s a great time to bring everybody out because we’re super busy, we have a lot going on. There’s a ton,” she tells PBS39 News Tonight reporter, K.C. Lopez, “We need volunteers to help with the teacher store, to help pack those boxes because there’s always someone who is hungry.”