It’s lunchtime at Wheeler Mission’s Women and Children’s Shelter and every seat in the dining room is taken. “We normally feed around 40 people during lunchtime in the summer but lately we are feeding closer to 70”, says Shelter Chef Sam Brown. “These are the kind of numbers we see during the winter, never the summer”, he added. While it’s not clear why so many families are showing up in need of a meal, Wheeler Mission is grateful for a steady supply of healthy food thanks to their partnership with K-12 Food Rescue. Wheeler Mission is picking up weekly donations from an elementary school in Pike Township where leaders decided to continue to donate their unopened, unpeeled, unwanted food during the summer months. “Chartwells of Pike Township Schools is so grateful to continue our partnership with Food Rescue and Wheeler Mission throughout the summer months. We recognize that taking care of our planet and helping our community is not a part time job”, said Pike Township Dietician Julia Engle. “It is crucial to teach our children the importance of reducing food waste and helping our community so that they can continue these practices throughout their schooling and beyond”, Engle added.
During the school year, eight Pike Township schools participate in K-12 Food Rescue, with donations going to various caring agencies including Wheeler Mission. The donations are helping immensely but it is the summer donations that are really proving to be a blessing in disguise during what could have been a crisis for the homeless shelter. “Approximately 75% of our food is donated so when we have unexpected spikes we often have to purchase that food out of our tight budget to fill the gap. The food we are receiving from Food Rescue summer servings has saved us from taking a hit financially right now”, Brown said.
One Size Doesn’t Always Fit All
Another challenge Wheeler Mission is facing is having the right kind of food to feed children. The healthy, single serve items coming out of the school cafeteria fits the bill perfectly. “We are seeing families with no food to sustain them in between our traditional meal times.“, Brown said. “The food provided by Food Rescue allows us to hand a mom a milk and a few snacks to hold the kids over until they can come back for another meal.”, He added. Brown says he values the partnership with K-12 Food Rescue and looks forward to the relationship growing in the years to come. “At the end of the day, this partnership helps us fulfill our mission to feed our neighbors. Knowing it is also helping children learn about food waste and humanity as well is just a win-win for everyone.”