Food cup­board pro­vid­ing fam­i­lies with more than ‘Loaves and Fishes’

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - POLICEREPORTS - By Jar­reau Free­man

Ev­ery Thurs­day from noon to 2 p.m. the Loaves and Fishes Food Cup­board, a min­istry of the Jenk­in­town United Methodist Church, opens its doors to feed Mont­gomery County fam­i­lies in need.

Abing­ton res­i­dent Al Ur­ban said he has been com­ing to the food cup­board for a year. He said he is on dis­abil­ity be­cause the retina in one of his eyes is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

“I used to be a ware­house man­ager,” he said look­ing down at his 2-year-old son.

With seven mouths to feed at home, Ur­ban said he has been able to come to the food cup­board to get sup­ple­men­tary food items.

“It’s been nice here and nice to see so many peo­ple who want to help,” he said.

Joy Percy, who has been un­em­ployed since March, said she re­cently got a new MRE. 6hH sDLG WhLs wDs hHU fiUsW time, and hope­fully last time, com­ing to the cup­board.

“I’ve been search­ing for the right job in the nurs­ing field for a while,” she said. “I re­cently found a job in nurs­ing ed­u­ca­tion that I wanted and that pays well. I start Mon­day.”

Percy said she has been sup­port­ing her­self, her two sons and a friend of her one son who is home­less. Al­though both of her sons work at pizze­rias, she said it has been hard to make ends meet.

“Hope­fully, I’m at the end [of the rough times] and can move for­ward,” she said. “The [food cup­board] is a won­der­ful place and I’ll be back to do­nate.”

Started by Jenk­in­town United Methodist Church mem­ber Muriel Hap­pich, the Loaves and Fishes Food Cup­board has been as­sist­ing the un­der­em­ployed, un­em­ployed and dis­abled in Mont­gomery County for 30 years.

“We serve ap­prox­i­mately 65 fam­i­lies a week, an av­er­age of three peo­ple in each fam­ily,” said the Rev. Jay Newlin. “In the 10 years I have been pas­tor­ing this church, the food cup­board re­cip­i­ent num­ber has more than dou­bled.”

Newlin said the food cup­board hosts two prin­ciSDO SURJUDPs. 7hH fiUsW Ls 7hH Emer­gency Food As­sis­tance Pro­gram, which is funded by the state. The food is dis­trib­uted by the U.S. and Penn­syl­va­nia de­part­ments of agri­cul­ture.

Tom Force, who heads TEFAP, said that in the past the pro­gram usu­ally re­ceived $13,000 in state funds. How­ever, since the state cut funds by 25 per­cent it is only re­ceiv­ing $9,000 in funds this year.

“Ev­ery­one in the state is get­ting these cuts,” Force said. “We make do with what we have.”

Newlin said the sec­ond pro­gram the church has is a pro­gram funded by do­na­tions re­ceived from church mem­bers, lo­cal busi­nesses, or­ga­ni­za­tions and community mem­bers. This pro­gram is headed by Lou Riggs.

Riggs said when fam­i­lies come to the food cup­board they will re­ceive a gro­cery EDJ fiOOHG wLWh D ER[ RI SDsWD, a jar of pasta sauce, a can of beef or canned meat, a can of fruit, corn, car­rots, peas or green beans, a can of pork and beans or just beans, a jar of peanut but­ter, a fam­ily size can of tuna and a box of ce­real.

On many oc­ca­sions they are given baked bread and pas­tries do­nated by Fil-ABagel in Jenk­in­town and Daryl’s Bak­ery in Glen­side, Riggs said. Of­ten­times fresh veg­eta­bles and fruit do­nated by Pen­ny­pack Farm are avail­able too.

“We are pro­vid­ing roughly, in both pro­grams, in­greGLHnWs IRU fivH RU sL[ PHDOs,” Newlin said.

To qual­ify for these pro­grams fam­i­lies have to live in Mont­gomery County and have to make 150 per­cent be­low the fed­eral poverty guide­lines.

“For a fam­ily of four that would be $34,5T5 a year,” he said.

1HwOLn sDLG TuDOL­fiHG IDPilies re­ceive TEFAP food once a month and do­nated food three times a month.

In ad­di­tion to these pro­grams vol­un­teer Mindy Bartscherer said they also have a “cloth­ing cup­board” spon­sored by do­na­tions, have spe­cial­ized food pro­grams for se­nior cit­i­zens and help fam­i­lies sign up for EHnH­fiWs WhHy DUH HnWLWOHG WR like food stamps and Med­i­caid. She also said they even help fam­i­lies reg­is­ter to vote.

“I feel very lucky and blessed to have all that I have,” she said. “I’m glad that I am able to help out … this could be me in a heart­beat.”

To learn more about the Loaves and Fishes Food Cup­board call 215-886T255 or visit www.gbg­mumc.orgL­jenk­in­townumcL Frame­set.html.

Al Ur­ban and his son load the car af­ter their af­ter­noon at the Loaves and Fishes Food Cup­board in Jenk­in­town.

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