A $50,000 grant from a financial services corporation will help an area food bank increase its reach to families of school students.
The food bank did that on Thursday when a mobile food pantry parked near two Wilkes-Barre schools after classes are out.
The Commission on Economic Opportunity’s Weinberg Regional Food Bank recently announced it would use the grant from Morgan Stanley to fund its Mobile School Pantry Program to ensure low-income families have a readily accessible source of healthy and nutritious food to make at home.
The award is part of Fill the Plate, Morgan Stanley’s long-standing partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger-relief charity, according to CEO. The firm has committed more than $13 million for the Feeding America network to distribute millions of meals to children and families in the 50 states. As part of that, CEO reported, Morgan Stanley is providing more than $4 million over four years to local food banks such as the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Food Bank.
“As a member of Feeding America, we applied for the grant,” said Gretchen Hunt, CEO’s director of nutrition programs.
“We were given a number of choices (to use the grant),” Hunt said. “We chose the school pantries. I think there’s big need for food support for families with children. The schools are a great way to reach them.”
She said the mobile food pantry truck was stationed at Kistler Elementary School 3:45 to 6 p.m. Thursday
“We invited families from both Kistler and Meyers (Junior/Senior High School),” she said.
She said the mobile pantry was at Kistler last month for the first time.
“Most of families came right after school,” Hunt said. “We served 96 families on Dec. 12. That school has a large population and there wasn’t any after-school program providing snacks or dinner, like at other schools.”
She said the mobile pantry would go to the school once a month.
Hunt said mobile pantries also traveled to the Blue Ridge School District elementary school in Susquehanna County and Mehoopany Elementary in the Tunkhannock Area School District and were scheduled to return to Blue Ridge on Tuesday and Mehoopany on Wednesday this week.
“We certainly hope this model works and is replicated in the future,” Hunt said. “We hope to serve additional schools, as well as additional districts.”
“Giving back to the communities where we live and work is one of Morgan Stanley’s core values,” said Rich Franchella, managing director, complex manager, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Allentown. “We are proud of our firm’s grant to the CEO Weinberg Regional Food Bank, especially since so many of us are also long-time volunteers at this important community organization.”
Hunt said CEO was enlisting Morgan Stanley employees from the firm’s Wilkes-Barre and Montage Mountain offices to volunteer in February.