Non-profits in Montgomery County combat pandemic hunger

People are becoming vaccinated but pandemic hunger is still a big issue. Leaders in Montgomery County say that includes more kids.

It was decades ago when a priest at the imposing St. Patrick Church in Norristown constantly found the hungry at the chapel door.

"The pastor kept getting a knock at his door and grew tired of getting up and helping those who needed food," LeeAnn Rooney said.

Out of exhaustion and hunger, grew the Patrician Society, a 40-year-old food pantry tucked in the basement of a church building, serving 11,000 families yearly many fighting pandemic hunger.

They gather on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 1 p.m. along Green Street where food, including meat and eggs, is offered through an opening designed to keep the virus at bay.

With its small staff and scores of volunteers, the society served 480 households in April, many out of work and undocumented with no other means of support.

"Yes, more and more children, more and more families in need of diapers, in need of formula, and in need of baby food," Rooney said.

With 830,000 residents and largely seen as prosperous, Montgomery County still has pockets of poverty where hunger is on the march.

Paula Schafer knows the need.

"Kids who were missing out on free and reduce priced lunches in school," Paula Schafer explained.

Schafer heads the Montco Anti-Hunger Network, a small non-profit, that supports the dozens of food pantries across the county with food from large suppliers and ideas on best ways to combat  COVID-hunger.

"Forty seven food pantries across Montco, just think about that. That’s really a commentary on what hunger looks like here," Schafer added.

Schafer says the pantries support 23,000 families with the help of $2 million tossed into the hunger fight by the county.

She says the cost of living is high in Montco and the loss of a low-wage job can be devastating.

At the Patrician Society stands a "share table" where the needy help each other.

"It took me off guard. I thought wow, they’re more thoughtful than a lot of people. They know how hard it is to come by and don’t want to waste it," Jackie DiPasquale said.



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