BROOMALL–With the holiday season kicked up in full gear, many may remember to give back and to help local shelters or to those in need. But the need is year-round.
"Wonderful people like to give during this year but we need food year-round," said Maria Kollar, director of St. Mark's United Methodist Church Food Bank in Broomall.
And the need is dire more so this year than any other year. According to Kollar, the state has cut funding to the local shelters and reallocated that money to administration.
The food bank's newsletter on St. Mark's United Methodist Church's website reads:
The economic downturn has once again struck another group of vulnerable individuals. With an estimated 12,000 children under the age of 18 living in poverty in Delaware County alone, elected officials in Harrisburg have decided that taking food from needy children statewide is necessary to meet budget constraints. As a result, food centers countywide will no longer be receiving government food shipments at the current levels, severely depleting their stores of nutritious food items.
"We're getting less food. Some of the centers have lost a considerable amount," said Kollar. "We've seen a decrease in food shipped and the variety. The need is still there."
According to Kollar, the local food bank in Broomall receives about 4 percent of the allocated funding given to the Delco Interfaith Food Assistance Network (DIFAN)–a network of 12 churches and synagogues in Delaware County to provide emergency food for those in need. The 4 percent of that funding received goes towards the purchasing of food for the food bank, said Kollar.
At least 64 hungry families–including those living in Marple, Newtown, Edgmont, Springfield, Haverford, Radnor, Swarthmore, and Morton–come to the St. Mark's food bank for food.
"People don't realize this but poverty exists right in their back door. I don't think people are aware of how bad the need is," said Kollar.
In the 2011-12 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) reports there were 14 percent of students from low-income families enrolled in the Marple Newtown School District. In Haverford School District, 12 percent of enrolled students came from low-income families; 11 percent in Rose Tree Media School District; 11.5 percent in Springfield School District; 6.8 percent in Radnor School District; and 10 percent in Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, according to the PDE.
"I don't understand the reallocations because they don't reflect the need. I don't believe in handouts but when you have real people suffering with real need, you need to do something," said Kollar. "I hate to be dependent on the government for anything but they really need to pick up the slack and think especially for the children. Under-nourished children cannot develop property, go to school and learn properly. It's a shame that our children living right here in Marple Newtown are under poverty level."
Although they have about 20 cases of cranberry sauce already, Kollar said the center is still in need for the following non-perishable food items:
- Canned Tuna (preferably packed in water)
- Canned Chicken
- Half-gallon Bottles of Apple Juice
- Fruit Juice
- Enriched Pasta
- Canned Vegetables
In addition, the food bank is looking for the following help:
Frugal Shoppers: If you get a thrill from a bargain, can pinch a penny ‘til it screams, the food bank needs YOU to go shopping with donated funds to fill the pantry with needed items. Call the Food Bank if you would like this coveted position.
Volunteers: Persons of all ages, shapes, and sizes with a desire to serve are always welcome and greatly needed to sort, shelve, pack bags, etc. We will do our best to accommodate your availability. Call the church office to become part of the team.
For more information on how to get involved at the St. Mark's Food Bank, call them at 610-356-1199.