LOAVES AND FISHES IS CELEBRATING EIGHT YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

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RIDLEY NEWS - RIDLEY PARK EDITION

RIDLEY NEWS

LONG AND FOSTER IN MEDIA HOLD DRIVE FOR LOCAL PANTRY

Prospect Park, PA – Local Realtor Brenda Cole, of the Media office of Long and Foster Real Estate, is one of those “go to” people. When she saw a news item about Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park, she made a call to its director, Linda Freeman. That call led to a very successful drive to raise food, funds and house ware items for the clients of the pantry.

Donated were nearly 100 pounds of food, several checks, and more than 200 pounds of glassware, tableware, dishes, pots and pans, cooking utensils and blankets. “These items came in on Thursday at noon,” said Linda Freeman, “and by 4 p.m. the food had been sorted and put to use and the more than 50 client families who were in the pantry that day got to choose from among a wide array of household goods. It was like Christmas in June.”

“Long and Foster each year does a community service project,” said Brenda Cole, “and we decided to see what we could do for the families in need who come to Loaves and Fishes. The response from our agents and staff was amazing. It took three SUVs and Linda’s sport wagon to get the items to Prospect Park.”

Pat Tiehel, office manager, was already familiar with the food pantry. She had lived in their coverage area and her children went to school in the local school system. “It was very heartwarming to see our sales staff collecting items from not only their families, but the households of some of our clients. When someone downsizes there is often a lot of household goods that simply cannot be used any more,” she said, “and people were very generous with those goods.”

Freeman explained that in addition to food products, Loaves and Fishes has been gathering new or gently used household items, such as silverware, crock pots, toaster ovens, microwave ovens, and toasters. “There is such a need in some of our families for dishes, silverware and cooking equipment – actually, anything for the kitchen -- that these goods don’t stay long at the pantry,” said Freeman.

VOLUNTEERS HONORED FOR THEIR WORK AT LOAVES AND FISHES FOOD PANTRY

Prospect Park, Pa. – Almost 30 volunteers who make it possible to serve more than 12,000 clients each year at the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at Prospect Hill Baptist Church, were honored recently at a special recognition service during Sunday morning worship at the church.

“This is an all-volunteer operation,” said Linda Freeman, director of the pantry, “and without these hard working individuals, we simply could not handle the nearly 700 families who come to us. Volunteers stock our shelves, serve our clients, register new clients, carry cases of food from our inventory room to the kitchen where we provide the boxes of food, and perform a wide range of other helpful services to keep our operation flowing smoothly and, more important, keep our clients well served.”

The Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry is a non-denominational, non-sectarian food bank that supplies food to those in need in an area roughly encompassing the Ridley and Interboro School districts in Delaware County, Pa. Its coverage area runs from Eddystone to Glenolden and from Tinicum Township to Morton/Rutledge. Hours of service are 9:30 to noon on Tuesday, 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The pantry serves all people, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, country of origin, or sexual orientation and helps families in more than 35 different communities. Although it receives some government support, the pantry must raise about 70 percent of the food it uses, or raise the funds to purchase foods not donated. “The food boxes we pack contain sufficient food for five days, three meals a day,” said Freeman. “Each family may use the pantry twice each month and must fall within the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for poverty.”

WOODLYN BOY SCOUTS HELP LOCAL FOOD PANTRY

Prospect Park, PA – When Scout Troop 43 of Woodlyn makes a commitment to something, it lives up to it. For several years the troop has been actively helping the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park by collecting food, not only during the Boy Scout food drive, but at other times throughout the year.

Being resourceful, the scouts took part in a special Sunday event in Media where they set up an information table, including information about Loaves and Fishes. They put out a box to collect food and also took in cash donations. They worked all day in the sun, and still at the energy to deliver the food to the food pantry at the end of the day.

“These scouts are what scouting is all about,” said Linda Freeman, director of the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry. “They constantly give of themselves to help others. In this case, they collected nearly 80 pounds of food and $187 in cash. The food was used the following week to help feed our clients. The money also will be used to supply Thanksgiving and holiday dinners for the nearly700 families who come to us. We must raise more than $6,000 to be able to do this and the money the scouts have given us will help us help almost eight families for the holidays.”

TAYLOR HOSPITAL PARTNERS WITH LOCAL FOOD PANTRY

Taylor Hospital’s Janice Perry, Assistant Vice President, Patient Services, and Diane Miller, President, are regular visitors to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at Prospect Hill Baptist Church in Prospect Park. Perry has spearheaded a campaign by staff and administration at Taylor Hospital to do monthly collections of food and non-food products for the pantry which serves nearly 700 at-risk families in the Ridley and Interboro School districts. So far, nearly 400 bars of soap, 300 pounds of peanut butter and jelly,130 pounds of Spam, and dozens of rolls of toilet paper have been donated. Each month a different product is donated and delivered to the pantry.

TAYLOR COMMUNITY FOUNDATION GIVES GRANT TO LOCAL FOOD PANTRY

Ridley Park, Pa. – The Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park has been given a $2500 grant by the Taylor Community Foundation to help provide for the nutritional needs of local citizens who fall under the economic guidelines for poverty. The pantry provides nutritious boxes of food to those in need in a geographic area from Eddystone to Glenolden, and from Tinicum to Swarthmore/Rutledge. Nearly 12,000 residents are provided with nearly 190,000 meals by Loaves and Fishes each year.

The timing of the grant is perfect, said Linda Freeman, director of the pantry . “Thanks to the Taylor Community Foundation, we are able to provide fresh produce for our clients throughout the year,” she said. “Most of what we use is canned, and fresh onions, potatoes, carrots, green beans and apples will provide an extra layer of nutrition. And besides, they just taste wonderful!”

Each of the more than 700 families who come to the food pantry may visit once each month. Each time they receive a nutritionally balanced box of food sufficient to feed their family for five days. The pantry is open from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon on Tuesday and 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursday.

A typical box for a family will contain five meats, canned fruits and vegetables, soup, cereal, fruit juice, crackers, peanut butter and jelly, raisins, tomato products, starches (mashed potatoes, noodles, pasta), pancake mix and syrup, and a host of other products, such as trail mix, nuts, and personal care products, when available.

“Our need is always greatest for such products as peanut butter, Spam, canned beef stew, chicken and dumplings, tuna fish and personal care products, such as bars of soap, toilet tissue, laundry detergent, tooth brushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and shaving cream.,” said Freeman.

Individuals, businesses or organizations that wish to contribute food or personal care items or offer monetary donations to help support this community outreach program may contact the Loaves and Fishes by calling 610-532-9000 or visiting the pantry during its twice-weekly hours. Checks can be sent directly to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry c/o Prospect Hill Baptist Church, 703 Lincoln Avenue, Prospect Park, Pa. 19076.

CHILDREN AT ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST CHURCH COLLECT FOOD FOR LOCAL FOOD PANTRY

Prospect Park, Pa. – The children attending daily vacation bible school at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in Essington decided to make a difference in their community. As part of the summer program the children collected canned foods and other products for the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry. The pantry coverage area includes Essington, Lester, Tinicum and more than 30 other communities. In all, the children gathered in more than 150 lbs. of food.

“These children are learning at a young age what it means to share,” said Linda Freeman, director of the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry. “They reached out to those in need in their community and their thoughtfulness and compassion is greatly appreciated by the clients of our pantry. St. John the Evangelist has been a long time supporter of our operations, not only by giving food and other products, but by their actions. Their church is to be commended and these children should know their actions made a difference to families in their community.”

ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST CHURCH RAISES FUNDS FOR LOAVES AND FISHES FOOD PANTRY

Prospect Park, Pa. – Each year, St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Tinicum has donated the proceeds of their annual spring dinner to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry to help feed the more than 12,000 people who are clients of the local food cupboard.

“Throughout the year, St. John the Evangelist helps our operation by being faithful contributors of not only financial support, but also food and volunteers,” said Linda Freeman, director of the food pantry. The check they have just given us will be put to use immediately for the purchase of fresh meat products for our clients.”

BETHEL SPRINGS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AIDS FOOD PANTRY

Prospect Park, PA – Sometimes help comes from places you don’t expect. This was true for the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, based in Prospect Park, when the “Helping Hands Club” headed by teacher Lynn Cashell at the Bethel Springs Elementary School, called the food pantry and said “we have some food for you.”

The Helping Hands Club does a community service activity each year. They collected nearly 200 pounds of food for clients of the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry. The students even helped load it into the car when the food was picked up. They have also collected children’s books for the pantry library.

“This is an outstanding example of young people learning at a young age the value of reaching out to help those in need,” says Linda Freeman, Director of the food pantry. “The students were very excited about what they had accomplished and Mrs. Cashell’s leadership turned this activity into a real learning situation.”

The Helping Hands Club is for students grades 1 through 4 at Bethel Springs Elementary School. The Garnet Valley School District, of which Bethel Springs is a part, has supported the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry for several years. The high school has conducted an annual food drive that has resulted in more than 100,000 pounds of food being donated.

COUNTY FOOD DRIVE AIDS PROSPECT PARK PANTRY

Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at Prospect Hill Baptist Church, Prospect Park, was the recipient of more than 1,630 pounds of food from the Office of Behavioral Health. Each year the employees of Magellan Behavioral Health of PA have a friendly competition with the Office of Behavioral Health to collect non-perishable food items to distribute to families in need during the holidays. The food is donated to one of the food centers of the Delco Interfaith Food Assistance Network (DIFAN), a program of Family and Community Services of Delaware County. The food collected by Magellan Behavioral Health will be delivered to the Bernardine Center in Chester, also a DIFAN pantry. Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry is the largest food cupboard in Delaware County serving more than 700 families on a monthly basis, and providing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for its clients. The need is great for donations. With the downturn in the economy, food and funding donations to Loaves and Fishes, and other food cupboards, has plummeted. For information about Loaves and Fishes contact them at 610-532-9000 or stop in on Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to noon, or Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

LOCAL FOOD PANTRY RECEIVES FUNDING FROM ROTARY CLUB, INTERACT AT RIDLEY HIGH SCHOOL

Prospect Park, Pa. – At a meeting of the Rotary Club of Chester Pike, the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry was honored for its services to local communities. Ron Hudecheck, president of the Rotary Club for 2005-2006, presented a check for $900 to Linda Freeman, director of the food pantry. The funds came from donations given by nine individual Rotarians.

The Interact Club of Ridley High School, which follows the Rotary tradition of “Service above Self,” also presented a check to Freeman. The $1,000 donation by the Interact Club came from a fundraiser they did based on the American Idol competition.

“The Rotary Club of Chester Pike is a longtime friend and supporter of the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry,” said Freeman. “When we started the pantry years ago, the Rotary Club was one of the first organizations to offer us ongoing help in the form of food and cash donations. They have enabled us to keep food on our shelves and to purchase items not donated but needed by our clients.”

The Interact Club at Ridley High School has supported Loaves and Fishes for several years. “These young people understand how important it is to think beyond their own lives and consider the lives of those who live in poverty,” said Freeman. “Since Loaves and Fishes helps people from a geographic area that includes the Ridley and Interboro School districts, they have taken on the pantry as an ongoing project. We are so grateful to them for their hard work in our behalf.”

INTERBORO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS COLLECT FOOD FOR LOCAL FOOD PANTRY

Prospect Park, Pa. – Interboro High School students recently collected nearly 1,200 lbs of food and several hundred dollars in cash for the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park. The pantry helps families in need in the Interboro and Ridley School Districts. More than 600 families who fall under the government’s economic guidelines for poverty are helped each year by the pantry.

“The students at Interboro have been very generous to Loaves and Fishes over the past several years,” said Linda Freeman, pantry director. “They have held food drives, raised money, helped collect children’s books, and given a lot of time, energy and commitment to what we do. They know their actions benefit local families by helping them receive nutritionally balanced boxes of food each month.”

Important to the work of these students is the support and direction of Andy Costanza, faculty member at Interboro. “Andy has been wonderful in keeping the students involved, informed and active. And this year as we have experienced incredible growth, doubling in size over the last 18 months, the efforts of these students is so very important to us. We can’t thank Andy enough for all he has done and the students for what they accomplished this year.”

PROSPECT PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HOLDS FOOD DRIVE FOR LOCAL PANTRY

Prospect Park, PA – The students at Prospect Park Elementary School held a food drive resulting in 1,012 pounds of food being donated to the local Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry.

“When we received a request for help from the pantry, I knew the children would want to do something,” said Holly Curran, guidance counselor at the school. In 48 hours, the students had donated 47 cases of food. Each student was told they could wear their favorite Phillies shirt to school on the first day of the playoffs if they brought canned or boxed food to donate.

“We really appreciate the efforts of the students, the faculty and administration in responding to our plea for help,” said Linda Freeman, director of Loaves and Fishes. “We are now serving nearly 600 families in the Interboro and Ridley School districts and that is a tremendous amount of food going out each week. We simply have not been able to raise enough funds or food to keep pace with the need. The food donated from the school will be put to immediate use.”