Smithfield Foods, Weis Markets and Richard Petty Motorsports are teaming up to bring one hefty donation to an area food bank.
The trio will present the CEO/Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank with 40,000 pounds of protein Friday at the Weis Markets location in Mountain Top. The donation is part of the Smithfield Helping Hungry Homes program, which has donated thousands of pounds of protein in recent years.
The Weinberg Food Bank, operated in cooperation with the Commission on Economic Opportunity, distributes food to pantries in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming and Susquehanna counties.
“It’s like an entire truckload of protein,” said Gretchen Hunt, Director of Nutrition Programs at the food bank.
A donation high in protein is especially helpful, she said, because many items donated tend to be non-perishable canned and dry goods lacking the essential nutrient.
Hunt said this is the second time the food bank has received this donation, which should serve between 8,000 and 10,000 households. The donation is a huge help, she said, but since the food bank typically serves about 10,000 people per week, it isn’t likely to last long.
Still, it couldn’t come at a more pressing time.
Food banks traditionally see decreased donations in the summer, leaving pantry shelves bare and sometimes without the food they need to open, she said. What’s more, the season creates additional need for food, she added, especially with children home from school.
According to Hunt, 23 percent of children in Northeast Pennsylvania are “food insecure.”
“Meaning that they’re not sure where their next meal is coming from,” she said.
Much of the need is focused in the urban areas of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, Hunt said, but the need in rural communities presents its own set of problems with in-need families spread far apart.
Hunt said the CEO/Weinberg food bank is currently working with local farmers to get more fresh produce on food pantry shelves.
Learn about how you can help those in need at www.ceopeoplehelpingpeople.org.