Giving2Grow is so honored to be able to provide some support to nine wonderful organizations in the southwestern Pennsylvania area – two new to us and seven returning – that serve children who face food insecurity. Explore the websites below to learn more about our 2022 Grant Recipients.
Beverly’s Birthdays: Greater Pittsburgh Infant Formula Bank – New Huntingdon, PA
Description: Beverly’s Birthdays provides birthday cheer and critical baby care items for children of families in need, including homeless families. In 2022, the organization founded The Greater Pittsburgh Infant Formula Bank to address a critical need of many clients—a dependable and affordable supply of formula for their babies. The pandemic, supply chain issues, and product recalls have highlighted the lack of a safety net available to families living in poverty in times of personal or financial crisis, or more widespread problems. Formula banks are housed in four Allegheny County Family Centers and one in the Beverly’s Birthdays headquarters in Westmoreland County. Families experiencing a crisis can obtain baby formula in limited amounts at no cost. In the first 6 weeks after the program’s launch in mid-2022, formula equating to over 2,000 bottles was provided for 184 babies. The plans for 2023 include expanding to 9 centers and providing formula for 1,500 babies. The program exhibits good data collection, reporting, and inventory control, as well as strong relationships with service partners. Client education is also a feature of the program.
Bible Center Church Oasis Project: Better Food, Better Me – Homewood, PA
Description: Better Food, Better Me (BFBM) is an education program within The Oasis Project, the community and economic development division of Homewood’s Bible Center Church. The primary audience is children aged 5-11 in neighborhoods identified as “food deserts”, including Homewood, East Hills, Wilkinsburg and others. BFBM is designed to provide students with food literacy: knowledge of nutrition; gardening and cooking skills; growing, preparing and tasting healthy and often unfamiliar food.
The program is typically presented at the Oasis Project Farm in Homewood. By partnering with local schools, BFBM is now also being presented in local elementary schools as part of in-day and weekly after-school programming. It is also part of the curriculum of a seven-week summer camp on the Bible Center campus in Homewood.
East End United Community Center (EEUCC) – Uniontown, PA
Description: EEUCC offers a variety of no-cost programs in their under-resourced community, designed to teach self-sufficiency and responsibility for one another, to help children and their families become productive citizens. The Gardening to Give program was launched in 2022. It teaches students in grades 1 – 8 to grow, harvest, and prepare healthy fruits and vegetables while giving back to the community. As part of a service-learning plan, they distribute some of their produce and prepared foods to people in need in the community, along with educational materials on food deserts and nutritional health. Participants are from families who fall below federal poverty guidelines; over 50% are African American. Approximately 70 students participated in 2022, along with 50 adults, and similar numbers are expected in 2023. While some students will have already experienced and learned aspects of accomplishing these goals during the 2022 Gardening to Give program, others will be brand new to the program. The goals and content will be adjusted appropriately to teach advanced lessons to those who have already participated, while still providing the basics for those who are new.
Garfield Community Farm – Pittsburgh, PA
Description: The Garfield Community Farm (part of the Open Door Church) is a 2.5-acre urban permaculture project built on vacant land adjacent to public housing, far from bus access, grocery stores or walkable shopping, let alone fresh produce. A working farm that grows a variety of food crops and raises poultry and rabbits, it provides food for low-income neighborhood families and the neighborhood Valley View Food Pantry. In the past two years, G2G has specifically funded the Farm program, which provides outdoor education (April to October) for neighborhood food-insecure children. They learn about food production, ecology, and nutrition by growing and harvesting food in their own plots, and then preparing the food. They also connect through classes and events like field trips and visits from local chefs. In 2022 about 250 children have participated in this program.
HEARTH – Pittsburgh, PA
Description: HEARTH provides a safe temporary (up to 2 years) shelter and support services to homeless women and their children who have survived trauma or abuse. In 2021 HEARTH’s programs served 31 families, including 36 children; 2022 demographics have been similar. Among the services is a 24-hour food pantry providing a selection of healthy mostly non-perishable food, which supplements the food residents can obtain through food stamps and other support programs. The pantry is stocked through community food drives and quarterly food bank orders; however, supplies often dwindle in between these events. In 2022 G2G provided $5,000 toward keeping the pantry well-stocked year-round, providing an important source of security and well-being for these vulnerable families. The current request also includes funding grocery store gift cards and materials for teaching families how to eat healthy on a limited budget.
Lighthouse Memorial Christian Center (LMCC) – Pittsburgh, PA
Description: Lighthouse Memorial Christian Center is a youth and outreach-focused church located in Mt. Oliver, serving surrounding communities including Knoxville, Carrick and Beltzhoover. This is one of Pittsburgh’s most challenged areas; these predominantly African American communities struggle with widespread homelessness, hunger, gun violence and addiction. For decades the LMCC organization and its many volunteers have worked to provide food, mentoring/counseling, and a haven for children and young adults of the community. Although this is a faith-based organization, programs are available to anyone in the community who needs them.
Every weekday during the school year the Lighthouse van picks up 35-40 elementary school aged children for its free after school program, with planned activities, homework help, and a healthy hot meal. The summer camp (ages 4-15) provides free activities, educational programming and occasional field trips, plus healthy meals and snacks for 65-80 children. Many of the participants would not have regular or nutritious meals during the summer without this program. Typically children leave both programs each day with a bag of food for the rest of their family.
Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs – Pittsburgh, PA
Description: The Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs, sponsored by Felician Ministries, include two programs that provide food to children: the Mooncrest After School Programs (MASP) provide a nutritious meal daily, send another snack home each day, and provide food for families to take home; Mooncrest Summer Camp Programs include daily breakfast, lunch and snacks, produce and food to take home. More than 80 children are served year-round. Mooncrest is a low-income, primarily rental, community located in an isolated section of Moon Township with no public transportation. It is difficult for residents without a car to go to the grocery store or access programs and services offered in Pittsburgh or surrounding communities. Staff and volunteers help the primarily Latino residents complete such important tasks as school enrollment, healthcare appointments, translation, jobs, utility setup, etc. MNP collaborates with 412 Food Rescue, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and the Coraopolis Community Development Corporation to make sure food is available to the Mooncrest children through the after school and summer programs.
Rainbow Kitchen Community Servces: Kids Café – Pittsburgh, PA
Description: Rainbow Kitchen’s Kids Café improves the quality of life for low-income children and their families by providing balanced, nutritious meals to hungry children, helping families stretch their dollars and food stamps, and ensuring that children do not go hungry when the family is low on both food and money. Kids Café provides food for low-income and food-insecure children (dinners five days a week), as well as after school activities and snacks at three different locations in Homestead, West Mifflin and Munhall. They also send food and snacks home when available. Kids Café has been serving thousands of meals each year; the goal for 2023 is 18,000 meals to 350 children. Rainbow Kitchen also collaborates with other local food programs, including the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.
United Methodist Church Union: Kids Meal Network – Pittsburgh, PA
Description: Kids Meal Network provides hot, nutritious meals and a safe haven to over 1,000 unique children at 20 different sites in economically challenged neighborhoods of Greater Pittsburgh during summer break. Most of the children do not get regular meals when school is not in session. Unemployment and poverty are widespread, crime and substance abuse are common, and many kids are left alone to fend for themselves during the day. Skyrocketing food prices this year have only made these children more vulnerable to hunger. Kids Meal Network provides an opportunity to alleviate that hunger and provide fun and stimulating activities with positive adult mentors. It is well-managed, and staff members and volunteers are very sensitive to the diverse needs of the children they serve.