Summertime is widely known for easy living, but the newly warm weather tends to bring unique challenges for Bucks County’s most vulnerable families. A significant issue brought on by the hottest season of the year is a drop-off in food donations that low-income residents count on to maintain a steady home life for themselves and their children.
Heather Foor, the Food Program Manager at the Bucks County Opportunity Council, is already seeing the difficulties Bucks County families are facing.
“It is definitely a challenge to secure enough food donations to serve our local families in need during this part of the year,” said Foor. “By now, the food collected during holiday food drives back in December has usually been distributed, so it’s up to us to fill in the gap.
Foor also mentioned that free school lunch programs shut down during the summer, which means an additional source of food has been cut off from Bucks County children until classes start in August.
An Initiative Intent on Fighting Local Hunger
A new program in its second year of operation has been formulated by the United Way of Bucks County to provide local food pantry coordinators a supplement to their pantry’s inventory for the summer months and year-round: Bucks Knocks Out Hunger.
BKO Hunger is the result of several agencies in partnership with the United Way to provide nutritionally fortified but low-cost meals to food-insecure families in our community. There are two varieties of these shelf-stable, dry packaged meals: macaroni and cheese and rice and beans.
In 2013, Bucks Knocks Out Hunger donated 101,088 meals to food pantries that directly benefited Bucks County families.
Feedback from the Food Pantries
Food pantry coordinators across Bucks County are seeing the impact the BKO meals have for their clients firsthand.
Maddie Burgess, the food pantry coordinator for the Bucks County Housing Group – Doylestown Food Pantry, has appreciated the additional supply of healthy and nutritious food for their clients.
“People especially love the rice & beans, they taste good and you can mix in other things like tomatoes to change it up,” said Burgess. “Really, we are grateful for anyone that gives us food, we’re grateful, but people even ask us for the rice & beans packs!”
Ruth Miller, a volunteer with YWCA – Bucks Landing and New Britain Baptist Church Larder, has also seen the positive impact of BKO meals.
“We have been very happy to receive the food abundance from BKO to benefit the residents we serve,” said Miller. “We receive federal and state funding, but community donations are what make the difference in supporting our efforts to support our neighbors in need.”
Want to Get Involved with Bucks Knocks Out Hunger?
-Volunteer! The United Way of Bucks County is still actively seeking volunteers for BKO on Friday, June 20th. Click here to sign up!
-Donate! Just $5 can give Hunger in Bucks County a “Jab” – and pack 20 meals! Click here to contribute!
– Advocate! Tell people about the project, through word of mouth or on social media with #BKOHunger.
Want to Join the Fight to Combat Hunger in Bucks County Year-Round?
-Volunteer! Contact Eileen Albillar, Volunteer & Community Connections Manager for the Bucks County Opportunity Council, at 215-345-8175, extension 209, to find a local volunteer opportunity that fits you!
-Start A Food Drive! Hunger never takes a vacation. Contact Heather Foor at 215-345-8175, extension 213 to learn how you can launch a food drive in your neighborhood, school, office or house of worship.
-Donate! Donations to the Food and Nutrition Network (FaNN) may be made by through the Can-less Food Drive. Click here for instructions on donating online or by check!
About the Contributor: Randy Levine lives in Chalfont, PA and is an Administrative Assistant for the Bucks County Opportunity Council. He is proud to support the various programs BCOC has to offer residents of Bucks County in need. On weekends, you may often find him providing tours of the historic Parry Mansion in New Hope, PA. The Opportunity Council connects people with resources to thrive. For more information, visit www.bcoc.org or email Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org.