Eighty Four, PA – The Washington County Community Foundation recently awarded a $20,000 grant to the Greater Washington County Food Bank to improve the ventilation in the kitchen of its Healthy Habits Training Center (HHTC).
Located in the heart of the Food Bank facility in West Brownsville, the HHTC has been in use since 2016. It has welcomed countless students, clients, and community members through its doors, and has been the venue for cooking classes by professional chefs and gardening classes by master gardeners. The HHTC has also provided a meeting space for the local beekeepers association and for job recruitment activities. It has been a busy place that is about to get busier.
With this grant, the Food Bank will begin to transform the HHTC kitchen into a commercial kitchen in preparation of implementing its Short-Term Emergency Program (STEP). Through STEP, the Food Bank will prepare and deliver hot, nutritious meals to individuals with short-term medical conditions with no or a limited support system at home. It is anticipated that through good nutrition individuals will recover more quickly and more fully, which will reduce the likelihood of needing additional medical treatments or hospital stays.
In the coming months, the Food Bank will purchase other equipment for the kitchen and will also hire a registered dietitian to direct the program. For STEP, the Food Bank is working with several insurance providers who will subsidize the program and who will also refer clients to the program. Over time and as funding permits, other food-insecure clients may be added to the STEP.
Connie Burd, Executive Director of the Greater Washington County Food Bank, expounded on the reasoning behind the new program, “The Greater Washington County Food Bank is committed to alleviating hunger through good nutrition. The traditional food bank model was simply to distribute food, as much food as could be secured through purchase or donation. But over time we have learned that a greater focus on nutrition is necessary as nationwide many food-insecure clients suffer simultaneous obesity and malnutrition. Simply focusing on caloric intake is creating additional problems, and so at the Greater Washington County Food Bank we have been launching programs, such as STEP, that center on good nutrition for food-insecure clients.”
“We commend the leadership of the Greater Washington County Food Bank for their ongoing focus on nutrition and are very pleased to help the organization upgrade its kitchen to initiate a new program that will help local residents recover from medical conditions in their own homes,” said Betsie Trew, WCCF President & CEO. “This program is just the most recent example of how our local food bank has expanded its programming since relocating to its present facility. The Greater Washington County Food Bank has become an industry innovator in alleviating hunger, and we are proud to partner with them on this newest endeavor.”
In addition to its Healthy Habits Training Center, the Food Bank operates The Farm which grows fresh produce using both traditional and hydroponic methods, and the Country Thrift Market which not only provides essential health and cleaning items to low-income families but that also generates excess revenue that helps to run other programs. Through its Truck to Trunk program, the Food Bank provides monthly food boxes of high-quality nutritional foods and fresh, locally-sourced produce at several designated locations throughout Washington County.
The grant was awarded from the Foundation’s Close to Home Disaster & Emergency Fund, which was created in March 2020 and has cumulatively awarded more than $700,000 to local charities. For a comprehensive list of grantees, please visit www.wccf.net.