Northampton Press

Monday, April 23, 2018

Hunger initiative adds free Sunday community meal

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 by The Press in Opinion

On Jan. 19, 2016, the Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative began offering free community meals for our Whitehall and Coplay hunger-insecure residents. On that first day, which was sunny but brutally windy, we had 13 residents enjoy a hot meal. These dinners move monthly to different locations.

Over the last two years, these meals have grown to feed an average of 115 people on the third Tuesday of every month. We always seem to have enough food to serve everyone, but the meals are guaranteed for the first 100 people.

When we started this program, our goal was to help all food-insecure residents, including individuals, couples and families. However, many couples or individuals with kids are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. In talking with many people, our Tuesday 4-6:30 p.m. time frame was not enough time for people to get home from work, pick up the kids and come to the dinner or they were working their second job and could not attend. Families do attend our Tuesday meal, but we want to see more people use this assistance.

Our Whitehall Area Hunger Initiative group has decided to add a second free community meal on the first Sunday of every month. Our first Sunday meal will be Jan. 7, 2018, at St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 835 Third St., Fullerton, 4-6:30 p.m. The church phone number is 610-264-3762. This church also hosts our summer kids’ breakfast program, where we had many kids attend Monday through Friday 8:30-10 a.m. this past summer. We encourage all of the kids who attended our summer program and their families to come and to also invite their friends and their families to our first Sunday meal.

We still will be continuing our third Tuesday meal. This month, our Tuesday meal will be held 4-6:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at Whitehall Bible Fellowship Church, 3300 Seventh St., Hokendauqua. The church phone number is 610-434-8861.

Everyone is welcome to attend both monthly meals. We hope more families will come and attend the Sunday meal but also would encourage them, if possible, to also attend the Tuesday dinners. We love to see people make new friends.

We are thankful that people are finally overcoming their own self-imposed stigma and letting people know that they need help. We want to feed our residents who are struggling and want to give them hope that someone does care about them. There are many residents in the same situation. If you are reading this article, please tell those you know about our wonderful program. Our guests now have formed a bond, and they look to sit together in friendship.

A big thank you goes out to our 14 faith-based community partners in Whitehall and Coplay who are hosting one, two or even three meals in 2018. Five new faith-based partners joined our hunger initiative this year! We have two dates still available to host a meal — May 6 and July 1. If you have interest in hosting a meal or have any questions regarding any of our 24 meals scheduled for 2018, call Judy at 610-767-5061.