About the Greene County Food Security Partnership
The Greene County Food Security Partnership was organized in June 2011 to support the activities to end food insecurity in our area.
The Partnership has identified priorities to increase access to food resources and increase outreach and engagement to address food insecurity. Current projects include the Greene County Summer Food Program, the Greene County Weekend Food Program for school children, and outreach to increase knowledge about and access to public and private food resources.
The work of the Greene County Partnership, which is focused on action and activities – has become a model for other county partnerships in the southwest region.
The Partnership meets the second Wednesday of each month at The Foundation Room, 106 East High Street, Waynesburg. For more information about meetings and the work of the partnership check out their website www.greenefoodpartnership.org.
Greene County Weekend Food Program
With more than 2,000 children estimated to be eligible for free school meals in Greene County, providing meals to eligible students at school is crucial, but what happens when they head home for the weekend? This need was identified and acted on by social workers, guidance counselors, teachers, food service administrators and community members in 2012 with the creation of the Weekend Food Program.
“This program just works… it’s the best example of a community of caring people,” said Donna Dire, IU1 District Social Worker at West Greene who was an integral part of starting the program for the West Greene School District. The program allows eligible students to receive a bag of non-perishable food items at the end of each school week to consume over the weekends. The school district food service directors prepare the menus for the packs and order the food through the school’s food vendor at a significantly reduced cost.
Sean Stark, Food Service Director for Carmichaels Area School District said, “The program is really making a difference. To see the smile on the kids faces after receiving their first pack is incredibly rewarding.” The pack includes 6 light nutritional meals for children that require no preparation. At a cost of $195 per year per child, children receive the packs for the 39 week school year.
The Community Foundation of Greene County serves as fiscal sponsor for the program and many hands are involved to make the program work from the food service directors to the teachers and the community of donors.
After hearing about the community need, the West Greene Lions Club was quick to become a donor of the program. “The numbers were astounding to us and we just had to do something,” explained Patty Jones of the West Greene Lions Club.
In 2014, 2,065 children were eligible for free and reduced lunch and only 140 were able to be part of the Weekend Food Program due to funding limitations. The program is serving many students but the support of donors is needed to be able to serve more!
Greene County Summer Food Program
When the summer months arrive and most children are excited for summer vacation, some children dread the break from school because they are no longer able to receive their free and reduced breakfasts and lunches from the school cafeteria. After identifying this community need in 2009, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank partnered with the Community Foundation of Greene County, local schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses and local government to address the concern and created the Summer Food Program.
The Community Foundation serves as a fiscal sponsor for the program to provide support through grants and marketing for the project. Similar to the Weekend Food Program, the Summer Food Program food is ordered by school district food service directors but is then distributed to designated sites where children can receive a meal. “The Summer Food Program is a tremendous program and a great opportunity for kids of all ages and backgrounds to receive a steady meal similar to what they are used to during the school year,” said Jim Elsenheimer Food Service Director West Greene School District.
Designated sites include the Bowlby Library, the Department of Recreation’s Summer Day Camp locations, WWJD Christian Center and others. The Bowlby Library offers summer reading programs for children and has been able to extend its offerings as a result of the Summer Food Program. Kathy McClure, Director of Children’s Services explained, “We have summer programs and for us the Summer Food Program has allowed our children to be here the majority of the day and have a meal.”
The Greene County Department of Parks and Recreation hosts a summer day camp for children with multiple locations around Greene County. The camp offers educational programming and recreation to children as well as a hot meal and snack. “Because we have a lot of low income families, it helps to know these kids are getting at least one nutritional meal a day,” said Pam Blaker Parks & Recreation Manager. The Summer Day Camp program alone served 7,826 meals in 2014.