Food Pantry closes out 2009 produce drive in the, er, green

Food Pantry closes out 2009 produce drive in the, er, green

The Fresh Produce Initiative of the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry is getting ready to close out 2009, and another successful year.
Now in the third year of their “virtual” fresh produce drive, the Pantry received a good response to their year-end mailing, said Director Becky Abrams.
Abrams credits the community’s generous opening of their hearts and checkbooks for the Pantry’s success. Also, making a donation is easy and fun to do with the kids.
Visit the Pantry’s Web site — —and click on the bright red apple to get to the fun part of participating in the virtual food drive: you get to pick what your dollars will buy.
Want to donate $20? That will buy a case of bananas or 50 pounds of potatoes. Go to the checkout and you learn that for your $20, you help 80 people. How’s that for warm and fuzzy feedback?
“We asked our clients what we could do for them,” Abrams said, and the overwhelming response was that they wanted fresh produce.
Potatoes and apples are the most in demand.
“We’re able to get enough potatoes and apples for everyone we serve,” Abrams said. Produce, she said, is purchased through a wholesaler. The Pantry tries to provide seasonal fruits whenever possible. That means green beans around holidays, and around Chanuka, potatoes and onions for latkes and kosher chicken and eggs to round out a meal.
“We’ve been having a great year,” she said.
In an e-mail, Abrams supported this with the numbers.
Since Dec. 1, the Fresh Produce Initiative has raised $29,500.
The Pantry has served over 700 unduplicated people since Jan 1, 2009, the highest number of clients served in their 11-year history; they serve 500 people each month — some people only come for a few months, until they get back on their feet, some end up leaving town.
The Pantry distributes an average of 14,000 pounds of food each month to its clients. Of that 14,000 pounds, an average of 3,000 of that is fresh produce.
Throughout the year the Pantry uses over 350 volunteers that give over 1,600 hours of support through bag packing, deliveries to clients, food drive pick ups and recycling.
All families and individuals who live in the 15217 area, and those outside 15217 who keep kosher and meet income requirements are eligible. Contact the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry, which is a program of Jewish Family & Children’s Service, at (412) 421-2708 for more information.

(Angela Leibowicz can be reached at or 412-687-1003.)