Attending the presentation of plaques from Tioga-Bradford Housing Authority to Partners in Progress and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank were (front row left to right) Tara Davis, Pamela Hicks, Irene Morgan, Emily Preston, Jennifer Williams and Andrea Smithgall. (back row left to right) Sean Sember, Wendy Swingle, Kim Jolins, Roger Bunn, Travis Berg and Corey Johnson.
The Tioga Bradford Housing Authority partnered with Partners In Progress and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to distribute food to elderly, disabled and handicapped tenants at Riverside Park, Blossburg.
“For us, (the need) has probably doubled,” said Crystal Barnard, resident services program manager for the Tioga-Bradford County Housing Authority. “Probably more in other areas, but that is still a lot for this rural area.”
In normal circumstances, the tenants go to the community rooms to pick up their food like in a pantry line, but with COVID-19 as well as many of the tenants being high-risk, they are using other methods to make sure the food is delivered safely.
The three organizations have taken on the responsibility of not only separating and bagging the food deliveries for tenants, but also taking it to the houses.
“In the past we have had volunteers,” Barnard said. “Because they’re distributed primarily at our locations with high-risk tenants, we have temporarily eliminated our tenant volunteers from helping by having the staff of the Housing Authority chip in and help out.
With a lack of their normal volunteers, members of the community have stepped in to lend a helping hand, with the Food Bank continuing to deliver food and the member of Partners in Progress also lending a hand.
“We’re really excited and thankful that the Food Bank is able to continue providing food is fantastic,” Barnard said. “Then we have a partnership with Partners in Progress at this location, which is wonderful because they have still been able to volunteer.”
With all of these entities coming together to provide a service to those in need, the Housing Authority also talked about the “Fresh Express” program, a recently-implemented program that provides fresh products instead of unhealthy foods like snacks.
“Fresh Express means fresh products,” Pamela Hicks, programs and mobile distribution manager for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, said. “We are trying to do away with some of those not so good foods and really focus on what’s healthy and nutritious for people.”
The foods included in this initiative are fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, milk and eggs, according to Hicks.
Also the new way of delivering foods has opened the opportunity for Partners in Progress to give back to their community, and they jumped on the idea to give back.
“We have had a long-term relationship with the Housing Authority through our cleaning services,” Corey Johnson, a member of the group from Partners in Progress said. “Then last year when they called and proposed this opportunity with Irene and she thought it was a great opportunity for Emily (Preston) and we have a few other individuals on our staff to come out and help.”
The members of the Housing Authority also took the time to give plaques to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Partners in Progress in appreciation for their continued support, especially when demand for the service is higher than ever.