The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 24, 2010

Feeding families

SUNBURY — Cathy Teisher will be preparing a Thanksgiving meal for 25 people at Haven Ministry Thursday.

Teisher, executive director of the Sunbury shelter, said she has enough food to serve residents and 11 other families who would otherwise not be able to afford a holiday meal.

"But we always need more. When we have more, we can give more," she said.

Other food pantries around the Valley have stocked up for Thanksgiving, but as Major Ruth Bartholomew of the Salvation Army in Milton said, "We never know what the season is going to hold."

A study by the New York Times last winter revealed the number of residents receiving food stamps in the Central Susquehanna Valley rose significantly in two years; including 40 percent in Montour County; and by about 28 percent in Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties.

The percentage of children whose family receive food stamps varied from 20 percent in Northumberland County; 15 percent in Union County; 14 percent in Snyder County and 12 percent in Montour County.

The newspaper found that 9 percent of all people in Northumberland and Montour counties, 6 percent of Union County residents and 7 percent of Snyder County residents were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

More than 600 bags of food are handed out each month to families who show up twice a month at the Eastern Union County food pantry at the First Baptist Church on Third Street in Lewisburg, Richard Ellis said.

"We're doing OK," he said, adding that the need doesn't seem to have risen in the past few years.

Bartholomew expects her agency expects to receive about 400 applications for food and gifts from the annual Needy Family Fund, sponsored by The Daily Item, Sunbury Broadcasting Corp. and Susquehanna Bank.

"People give, particularly during the holidays and because the economy has been in such a turmoil,' she said.

Still, like Teisher, who's pantry is always in need of staples such as dried milk, canned meat, vegetables and soup, Bartholomew said the Salvation Army pantry is always accepting food donations. Teisher's nonprofit organization assists between 7,000 and 8,000 people every year and she's seeing more first-time visitors who've been hit hard by job loss.

"I don't know what we'll do if they don't extend unemployment benefits," she said.

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