ou can hardly turn on the news without hearing the term “food insecurity.”
COVID cases are once again on the upswing, straining budgets already stressed by inflation and skyrocketing interest rates. Many families are looking at a bumpy road as winter approaches.
Our local pantries have witnessed the fallout.
South Hills food pantries aim to lighten the load for residents who struggle to stock their shelves with needed supplies. If you haven’t used or donated to one, you may not even realize that the Mt. Lebanon area is home to several food pantries. These organizations provide relief and peace of mind to residents struggling to make ends meet.
“After the pandemic waned, we were hoping people were getting back on their feet, but what we were seeing was people struggling more,” said Seth Durbin, director of development and communications with South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM).
Durbin anticipated a decrease in need following the pandemic but, conversely, requests for assistance have grown.
Margi Henderson, director of St. Winifred Catholic Church’s food pantry, says many families who have never taken advantage of the resource feel reluctant to ask for help.
“It’s hard for them to first come to a food pantry, but COVID made people more aware of them,” she said. “They were donors and now they’re recipients.”
St. Winifred food pantry witnessed a significant increase in need in 2023.
Bob Brown, volunteer coordinator of the South Hills Food Pantry, focuses on the post-pandemic fallout like the rest of the pantries. “For us, it’s been interesting. During the covid and post-covid eras, there seem to be more food pantries that have come into existence or prominence.”
With the rise in new clients, Durbin wants those who use SHIM’s services, or anyone who thinks of using food banks, to help break the stigma that some attach to asking for help. “Ever since the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase year over year for people coming to us for food.”
One positive from the pandemic was an increased awareness and need for food pantries. South Hills pantries overflowed with donations. Donations are still strong, but have dipped from pandemic levels. With the holiday season bearing down on us, now’s a great time to take a step back and consider contributing to a local food pantry. See the list at right for suggestions on the best way to help each organization.
Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church (MLUMC)
3319 West Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15216
The biggest need is for monetary donations. Checks can be made out to MLUMC with “food pantry” noted in the memo line. Non-perishable items are also always welcome. Some popular items include canned fruits and veggies, cookies, and essentials. If you’re interested in volunteering, MLUMC would also love to hear from you.
The South Hills Food Pantry
799 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15228
412-343-8900 General questions, including donation and volunteer inquiries.
412-343-1779 – Monitored line for delivery requests.
Bring non-perishable items to Southminster House, 801 Washington Road, where you’ll see a donation box on the screened-in porch, or to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 1066 Washington Road. You can also make a check out to “Southminster Presbyterian Church” with “South Hills Food Pantry” listed in the memo line and mail it to the address above. Volunteers welcome.
South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM)
5301 Park Avenue, Bethel Park, Pa. 15102
Donation hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 412-854-9120 ext. 112 if you need to schedule a dropoff time outside of these hours. Monetary donations are most critical. They also welcome personal care items and non-perishable food including rice, cereal, soup, baby food, and diapers sized 3 to 5.
St. Winifred Food Pantry
550 Sleepy Hollow Road, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15228
Canned vegetables, dry goods, personal care items (including incontinence products), and general non-perishable items can be dropped off in the donation box. If you’re able to contribute money, make checks out to “St. Winifred Food Pantry” and mail to St. Paul of the Cross, 400 Hoodridge Drive, Pittsburgh, Pa., 15234. After completing a food handling course, volunteers are invited to help with food distribution.