Food distribution Blessings of Hope

People wait in line last weekend at Center City Church in Altoona, where volunteers worked with Blessings of Hope to hand out more than 800 boxes of food. 

When Crucified Church’s Josh Knipple heard a faith-based mobile food pantry was planning to hand out more than 800 boxes of food to struggling Altoona families last week, he and his wife, Lindsey, were eager to volunteer to help.

This week, the food bank on wheels will bring boxes full of “blessings” to Johnstown, he said.

A local group of 20 community religious leaders are partnering with Lancaster County-based Blessings of Hope to distribute food to area families outside Beulah United Methodist Church on Bedford Street at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“Everyone knows there’s a need in our community right now,” said Knipple, who organized the outreach through Crucified’s nondenominational “Greater Things” worship program. “This is an opportunity for us to be a light.”

It’s one of two food banks making a stop in the region this week.

Flood City Church in Richland and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank – a food pantry supplier across western Pennsylvania – are partnering on an ongoing “Produce 2 People” initiative that will offer drive-up food distribution from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Galleria in Richland Township. 

Blessings of Hope 

At Beulah, a network of pastors and fellow volunteers will work to unload a tractor-trailer full of at least 500 pre-packaged 40-pound boxes – milk, eggs and mealtime staples – and then hand them out to people one car at a time at 1 p.m. Saturday, Knipple said.

Given the fact many people across the region are out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic – and many families are serving more meals because children are at home – the need for good food is great, he said.

According to its website, Blessings of Hope started in 2006 and now operates from a 16,000-square-foot warehouse space in Lancaster County. 

In recent years, the mission has delivered 6.5 million pounds of food annually to those who need it, its website shows.

Knipple said Blessings of Hope’s boxes last week were packed full of produce, dairy and bagels.

Ray Streets, pastor at The Journey Church in Woodvale, said his congregation welcomed the opportunity to serve – whether it’s a box of “good, healthy food,” a listening ear or a prayer during difficult times.

He said he wasn’t surprised to see the community rally around the fundraising effort, which enabled Greater Things to increase its order from 200 boxes to 500 over the past week.

“People want to help people – that’s an important part of who we are in this community,” Streets said. “Whether it’s a helping hand that is reaching into a wallet to support (a cause) or handing out a box to someone who needs it.” 

Produce 2 People 

Flood City Church has been working with the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to residents for more than six years.

This Thursday, as many as 1,000 vehicles will be served through a drive-up process at the Galleria’s former Sears parking lot from 1 to 3 p.m., Flood City Pastor Johnny Bayush said.

Each vehicle will receive one “share” – two boxes total – which will be placed inside car trunks after they pull into the distribution line and shift into park, Bayush said in an email to The Tribune-Democrat.

Those planning to attend are asked to arrive no earlier than noon to wait in line.

“The distribution will end promptly at 3 p.m.,” he said. 

‘Keep it going’ 

For the Beulah event, Knipple said support from local church communities has already covered the cost to donate the truckload of Blessings of Hope boxes  – at nearly $7 per box – to families this weekend.

But he’s hoping support builds “to keep it going” over the weeks to come.

Support is needed to fund future deliveries as well as at distribution sites, he added.

To offer help, email Knipple at josh@crucifiedministries.com

Organizers are asking volunteers to arrive at 11 a.m. Saturday to help unload supplies.  

“All they need to bring is a mask,” he said.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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