The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is one of the largest charitable food rescue organizations in Pennsylvania, rescuing nearly 10 million pounds of food just since March 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis took hold in central Pennsylvania.

To honor that commitment to food rescue, the ReFED COVID-19 Food Waste Solution Fund recently granted $100,000 to the food bank to help the food bank with their food rescue initiatives throughout the crisis. They doubled their initial investment of $50,000 after learning about the innovative ways the food bank rescues healthy, nutritious food and distributes it to clients in need throughout their 27-county service territory.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank has expanded its food rescue work, adapting to the disruption of the food chain to recover food for neighbors in need. For many years, the food bank has had a robust program of rescuing food from manufacturers and producers, and connected their partner food pantries with local retailers to pick up excess prepared food, distribute federally funded foods and administer the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System grant that rescues food from local farmers and redistributes it throughout the charitable food system in Pennsylvania. Since the pandemic began, they have expanded on all of these programs and started working with new ones, including the USDA’s Farmers to Families program. They also worked with Operation BBQ Relief to redirect restaurant/bulk sized food items to family-sized prepared meals.

With this grant, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank was also able to create four new jobs on a new night shift, allowing for greater and more efficient distribution of the rescued food that is coming through the food bank’s doors.

“The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is committed to thinking creatively to acquire the healthiest food and distribute it to the most people,” said Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “We have been able to rescue millions of pounds of healthy, nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste. Through this generous grant, we have also been able to expand our workforce and add a much-needed third shift to help us distribute even more food to our neighbors in need. We are so grateful for partners like ReFED who understand the importance of food rescue.”

“COVID-19 has disrupted the regular flow of the food supply chain, making it difficult to get fresh, healthy food to the people who need it most and increasing the amount of food insecurity,” said Alexandria Coari, capital and innovation director at ReFED, a national nonprofit working to advance solutions to reduce the amount of food waste. “The work of organizations like the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is urgent and we’re excited to get them the critical support they need from the ReFED COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in March, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank has distributed more than 28 million pounds of food to those in need in the 27 counties it serves. They are currently serving more than 175,000 individuals per month, including children, seniors and Veterans. That is up from the 135,000 per month who relied on the food bank prior to March.

To learn more about the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, visit: www.centralpafoodbank.org.

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