The Westmoreland Food Bank unveils new wheels and hopes to expand the mobile market
The Westmoreland Food Bank makes an average of 13 trips a month through the Mobile Market, a program that began last October to deliver free fresh produce to community members in need.
With the help of a $100,000 state grant and additional federal funding, the food bank hopes to double the number of trips on a new set of wheels.
When Mobile Market first launched, it operated out of a van. On Friday, the food bank unveiled its new custom refrigerated truck with three times the production capacity, according to Food Bank Board of Directors Chairman Ron Eberhardt.
“Our Mobile Market program is another way we now have to continue to fulfill our mission…to enable our neighbors in Westmoreland County to have easy access to food,” Eberhart said.
The Westmoreland Food Bank serves over 8,000 different homes monthly. In 2022, it distributed about 5.5 million pounds of food across the county — 1.5 million of which was fresh produce.
Its mobile marketplace provides products to low-income areas, senior living homes and college campuses.
Westmoreland Food Bank CEO Jennifer Miller and state Sen. Kim Ward were among those who spoke at the unveiling.
– Quincey Reese (@QuinceyReese) September 15, 2023
It also seeks to reduce food waste.
The food bank often receives requests from grocery stores, such as Sam’s Club, to take excess produce and distribute it to the county. With the new refrigerated truck, Jennifer Miller, CEO of the food bank, said they will be able to use products that would otherwise go to a landfill.
About 90% of the products the food bank distributes come from grocery store donations. The remaining 10% comes from items purchased by the food bank, including milk and cheese from Pleasant Lane Farms in Unity.
About a third of the food in the United States goes uneaten each year, Miller said.
“We strive every year to distribute as much produce as possible through our monthly food distributions, but more is still needed. Thanks to our benefactors, we are able to provide that,” she said. “We are able to put our new truck to good use and make sure “Ensuring that fresh produce is readily available to all of our neighbors throughout Westmoreland County.”
State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, praised the food bank for addressing hunger in the county.
“It’s a real problem,” Ward said. “I’m so grateful to the food bank and to everyone involved — that you’re stepping up and (you’re) helping to take care of these families, because you’re angels on earth for doing what you do.”
County Commissioner Ted Cubas thanked the Food Bank for continuing to identify and address barriers to food access.
“It’s a shame you’re here, but thank God you’re here,” Cubas told the food bank volunteers.
Quincy Reese is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Quincey via email at email@example.com or via Twitter .