Giving thanks Food bank has helped 233 Lititz families so far this year
By: JANET SCOUTEN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
During this time of thankful feasting, counting blessings often turns toward remembering those who are less fortunate.
For Beth Trachte, pantry coordinator at the Lititz Warwick Community Chest (our local food bank), it’s the ideal time to bring attention to this non-profit’s mission — to provide food on a temporary basis to families and individuals in times of job loss or illness.
"Everybody wants to give at this time of year," Trachte said. "I refer to it as the season of good tidings and great joy."
The number of Lititz people in need, considering the perceived affluence of this community, is surprising.
Trachte said the Community Chest has served 233 families so far in 2012, compared to 150 just a few years ago. Currently, her 50 volunteers are making 46 deliveries a month. During a recent meeting of the Warwick Ministerium, it was reported that 23.8 percent of the Warwick School District student body qualifies for free or reduced lunches.
"That tells me that one out of every four children in our school district is potentially in need," Trachte said. "Lititz hides its poverty very well."
Last year, Lititz’s busy food bank distributed more than 55,000 pounds of non-perishables. A typical delivery can be up to 180 pounds of food and other grocery products. This includes fresh items such as bread, milk and meat, which volunteers purchase from local stores. One item that is down this year is frozen turkeys. A few years ago, the Community Chest had 120 turkeys in cold storage provided by Oehme Carriers. This year, they have only eight. But they’re not looking to provide holiday meals. The goal is to provide food, period, to anyone in need.
"I’ve talked to single moms, people injured in automobile accidents, and women who have been in abusive relationships," Trachte said of some of the stories she’s encountered. "They’re trying their hardest. Sometimes people cry. A lot of times they want to make sure you understand that they wouldn’t be doing this if they had a choice, and they want to explain why. The food is important, but sometimes they just need someone to listen … and understand."
On the heels of Saturday’s "Scouting for Food" drive held by area Boy Scouts, an endeavor that collected about 17,500 pounds of food just in time for the holiday season, Trachte notes that there is still ample opportunity and need for additional food and monetary donations both now and throughout the calendar year.
With its motto of "neighbors helping neighbors," the LWCC receives no government funding and is supported entirely through the contributions of local residents, businesses and community organizations.
Two major food drives, "Scouting for Food" in the fall and the Post Office’s "Stamp Out Hunger" in the spring, bring in about half of the food needed each year. The remainder must come through donations from individuals, schools, churches, businesses and community organizations.
"This is a remarkably generous community," said Trachte. "Contributions are always needed and welcomed."
Lititz resident Sue Dussinger recently donated several bags of groceries on behalf of a group of her friends. Rather than giving gifts to each other this year for the holidays, members of the group decided instead to share food with those who are in need.
As Dussinger explained, "We already have so much."
To make the donation, Dussinger first called the LWCC for suggestions on non-perishable items needed, and then coordinated with Trachte for a time to drop off the groceries.
Trachte said it’s not unusual for book clubs, quilting groups and other social groups to make such donations. She also noted that birthday party hosts sometimes ask for donations of food in lieu of gifts that they then deliver to the food bank.
She said the most common donated item is canned green beans, and the most needed item is canned meats (Spam, chicken, tuna, etc.).
Those interested in contributing food or conducting a food drive should contact the LWCC at 627-0770 prior to collecting items. Monetary donations should be addressed directly to Lititz Warwick Community Chest at P.O. Box 148, Lititz, PA 17543. There is also a drop box located behind St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lititz.
Those in need of assistance can call the LWCC at 627-0770 and speak with a phone consultant who will then determine eligibility.
Stephen Seeber, Record Express associate editor, contributed to this feature. "Lititz hides its poverty very well."
~ Beth Trachte
Pantry Coordinator More FOOD BANK, page A15