The face of hunger in Bucks County

Becca at Tinicum CSA Farm holds lettuce for Rolling Harvest Food Rescue; photo credit Tinicum CSA
Becca at Tinicum CSA Farm holds lettuce for Rolling Harvest Food Rescue; photo credit Tinicum CSA

by guest blogger Katie Lutzker,

The faces of hunger look quite different than most people imagine. In fact, the faces of hunger are often our neighbors and our friends.

In Bucks County, 65,000 residents are food insecure, lacking access to affordable, nutritious food. Thirty-five percent of those are children; fourteen percent are seniors. Sixty-four percent are adults working at least one full-time job.

Last Wednesday, November 1, the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance hosted a panel discussion at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown with four local individuals who see hunger up close, and have figured out ways to fight it in our region.

Tony D’Orazio, co-executive director of the Carversville Farm Foundation; John Crooke, co-owner of Tinicum Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm; Cathy Snyder, founder and executive director of Rolling Harvest Food Rescue; and pastor Vicky Allen from First United Methodist Church of Fairless Hills shared stories about the faces of hunger they see.

The Carversville Farm Foundation and Tinicum Farm CSA are both farms that dedicate time and land to help those in need. The Carversville Farm Foundation, just a four-year-old farm in Carversville, PA, has donated fifty-thousand pounds of produce — nearly all of its product — to hunger relief sites in the greater Philadelphia area.

Tinicum Farm uses both a sliding scale price system for their CSA shares and a “donate a share” option so others can help make a CSA share more affordable and accessible to fellow community members.

Rolling Harvest Food Rescue's Cathy Snyder holds produce donated by Roots to River Farm; photo credit Lynne Goldman
Rolling Harvest Food Rescue’s Cathy Snyder holds produce donated by Roots to River Farm; photo credit Lynne Goldman

Rolling Harvest Food Rescue acts as a liaison between small family farms and hunger relief sites that serve the food insecure population, like the Fairless Hills First United Methodist Church Food Pantry coordinated by pastor Vicky Allen.

Volunteers drive to local farms on both sides of the river — Carversville and Tinicum being just two of those farms — pick up the donated fresh food, and deliver it to local hunger-relief sites within 24-48 hours.

Rolling Harvest’s mission is to change the kind of food that is typically available in food pantries.

“Why,” asked Snyder “would you donate canned green beans or sugary, processed cereals if you wouldn’t eat them yourself?”

Snyder encouraged the audience to think about quality over quantity when donating foods to local food pantries. Even this time of year, fresh potatoes, onions and root vegetables — which are relatively shelf stable — are healthier than a can of salt-heavy soup. “If we can change the kind of foods that are donated, then food access becomes a little more fair.”

Rolling Harvest Food Rescue biweekly food distribution to area food pantries
Rolling Harvest Food Rescue biweekly food distribution to area food pantries

So how can we get to know the faces of hunger? One way is to volunteer at local food pantries and soup kitchens. Often when the stigma of who is the face of hunger and how he or she got there is removed, a more fair and just food system can be built. The hungry and the homeless can then have better access to fresh, local, healthy foods.

To learn more about the work of Rolling Harvest Food Rescue and how you can get involved, read our post, A Day in the Life: Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, when we rode with Cathy Snyder on her rounds one day.

For how you can help, check out these links:

Bucks County Food Runners: non-profit, volunteer organization that gleans safe, fresh, edible food that would otherwise be discarded by restaurants and other food production establishments. They then deliver it to shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, and other agencies. Volunteer and/or donate.
Bucks County Foodshed Alliance: a nonprofit organization of consumers, producers and other stakeholders working to strengthen our farming economy and improve availability of local, healthy, sustainably grown food for all members of our community. Volunteer and/or donate.
Bucks County Opportunity Council: Map of food pantries. Volunteer and/or donate.
Carversville Farm Foundation: Volunteer to work on the farm every Wednesday and Saturday during the season.
The Coalition Against Hunger: Founded in 1996, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger strives to build a community where all people have the food they need to lead healthy lives. The Coalition connects people with food assistance programs and nutrition education; provides resources to a network of food pantries; and educates the public and policymakers about responsible solutions that prevent people from going hungry. Donate.
College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA): Campus-based programs focused on alleviating food insecurity, hunger, and poverty among college and university students in the United States. Volunteer and/or donate.

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