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Food can be a foundation for community transformation.
In Lancaster there are many organizations giving back and enriching the City through extensive food programming and social enterprise.
Check out what Power Packs Project—an organization that provides food programs and nourishment education to families who are food insecure—is doing for the community and then explore other organizations transforming Lancaster through food-related outreach.
Power Packs Project: Enriching Families For Future Strength
The impact of Power Packs Project is focused on a clear mission: provide food and education families to help alleviate hunger.
Power Packs provides food to families on the weekends who are food insecure when school lunch programs are not available to them. Our goal is to empower families to regularly provide healthy meals so that children return to school on Monday well-fed and ready to learn.
Power Packs provides food to families who are food insecure when school lunch programs are not available to them while also empowering families to regularly provide healthy meals so that children return to school well-fed and ready to learn.
“It is critical to see the link between hunger and poverty,” said Jennifer Thompson, Executive Director of Power Packs Project. “We are seeing the number rise. This year it’s one out of six children that are food insecure. That means there is a lack of consistent access to food for that individual to be active and live a healthy life. It’s really important as a child—emotionally, physically, mentally—to have that food access.”
Jennifer has a background in nonprofit management and experience has a chef. This role was a perfect fit.
“It combines my passion for food with my love for the community,” said Jennifer. “I thrive on it.”
The team at Power Packs works hard to ensure the packs of meals are delivered consistently during the school year and through out the summer. They work closely with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, along with other markets and stores for vegetables, protein items like chicken and tuna, boxed goods, and canned items.
“We try to send enough food home to feed the family for the weekend,” added Jennifer. “Hunger isn’t just during the school day—it is so much more than that. Hungry kids can’t learn so this is why our organization is so important to our community.
Power Packs Project distributes thousands of these constructed pack meals to kids within the community and school systems in the area. Because of this, volunteers are the backbone of the organization.
“We have volunteers that pack the bags individually at the schools, people helping at our warehouse, and in the office,” said Jennifer. “This helps us keep our overhead low because of all the wonderful help we have with our amazing volunteers.”
“This community is among the most generous I’ve ever seen,” said David Northrup, Director of Operations at Power Packs Project. “The success of Power Packs relies on the support of corporations and individuals alike. Over the course of a school year, upwards of 400 individuals are involved in the distribution of packs, and many of them support us financially as well.”
“What we really need is monetary donations,” said Jennifer. “Even five to ten dollars can go a very long way. We can get some food at various cheaper prices, so financial donations really help us the most.”
Power Packs can source food at a discount rate from various markets and organizations—making monetary donations very important. Five dollars donated can get them many food items different than what five dollars could do at a typical grocery store. Because of this, the can stretch donations out very far.
“The need is constant,” added David. “Power Packs Project addresses both the current need of client families, as well as providing an education component and tools to help parents effectively feed their families going forward utilizing limited resources.”
The education piece is equally important. Power Packs looks to engage with the families and teach them healthy eating habits for future enrichment—this is how the cycle truly breaks. It needs to be sustainable and continued as the family grows and pushes forward.
“The education part is very important,” said Jennifer. “We are trying to break the cycle of hunger and help teach how to go about, shop, and make good food choices on a limited budget.”
Find out more about Power Packs Project, explore fundraising opportunities, and check out volunteer options on the website.
Giving Back With Food: Other Organizations & Businesses In Lancaster
In addition to Power Packs Project, there are other organizations and businesses in Lancaster helping through food.
Meals on Wheels is focused on delivery meal service to senior adults who may be experiencing three big threats: hunger, isolation, and loss of independence. Sometimes Meals on Wheels is the difference between an adult remaining in their own home and having to relocate to a retirement community.
The meals are varied and can be delivered to ensure nourishment. As of July 2018, more than 87,000 meals have been delivered in Lancaster County.
Meals on Wheels just opened their new location at 1411 Columbia Ave. It’s a great new space that offers more opportunities for the organization to grow and continue providing quality service to the community.
Find out more and see how you can make an impact with Meals on Wheels Lancaster here.
In Lancaster there are businesses that also use their footprint within the marketplace to give back with their food products.
Upohar, meaning “gift”, is a social impact food business that serves distinctive global fare, and specializes in vegan, vegetarian and naturally gluten-free food. Sri Dasgupta, founder of Upohar, employs, trains, and pays living wages to people experiencing significant barriers to workforce entry (such as newly resettled refugees or those experiencing homelessness), and helps to put them on a path to economic self-sufficiency.
Humankind also has a mission behind their business. By simply buying a drink, you are directly supporting the provision of clean water in projects around the world. All 100% of the water proceeds go back to charity, while the new teas and lemonades go back to supporting the business initiative and expansion of the mission around the world to ensure sustainability and success.
There are many other organizations in Lancaster City using food as a tool to change a community such as Water Street Mission, an organization that offers food and shelter for someone experiencing homelessness.
These organizations need donations, volunteer help, and for people to spread the word about their missions. Together we can help make positive impacts across the City and the County through the power of food.