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