By Mike Jones
The COVID-19 pandemic has exasperated the hunger crisis already brewing below the surface regionally and across the country.
Footage showing lines of cars stretching endlessly in the distance at a food distribution event near Pittsburgh earlier this year caught national attention, while smaller drives locally have also attracted many people in need.
The Fayette County Community Action Agency Inc. had tried to battle the crisis with weekly food drives at the beginning of the pandemic. While those distribution events have been moved to twice monthly, they’re still important to keeping people fed, especially during the holidays.
“Food has been a big part, so the food bank has been providing mass food distribution since April,” said Paige Mastrippolito, a planner with FCCAA.
There will be a holiday food distribution for Fayette County residents from 10 a.m. to noon today at the Uniontown Mall. The event coincides with hundreds of daily meals that are delivered to homes across the county.
The food distribution is just one of the roughly 70 different programs FCCAA offers to county residents, although they’ve taken on a different style during the pandemic. The human services nonprofit also helps expectant mothers, people who need housing assistance and families on food stamps, among many other services.
“During the pandemic, obviously, we had to kind of take our services remotely and modify how we provide them,” Mastrippolito said.
- IF YOU WANT TO HELP: Monetary donations can be mailed to FCCAA at 108 N. Beeson Ave., Uniontown, PA 15401, with the specific intended use of the money written in the memo. Or they can be sent online at www.fccaa.org.
Nurses partnered with FCCAA would offer video conference chats with first-time mothers in Fayette and Greene counties. Workers at the nonprofit would also help clients to load WIC cards with more money so they can be used to purchase food.
But right now, the nonprofit needs help with new volunteers and financial donations. An annual fundraiser typically held during the holidays was canceled, so monetary and in-kind donations are needed to help continue its mission.
“Volunteer work and donations are our two main areas. All of our programs take volunteers. We have several different opportunities.”
For now, Mastrippolito said they hope people stay positive during the holidays and know they have a place that can help them, if needed.
“We just want everyone to have a positive mindset, and if they do need help, please reach out, Mastrippolito said. “If we can’t provide a service, we can find them the help they need. We don’t want them to be discouraged.”
Mike Jones is a reporter for the Uniontown Herald-Standard, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story is being simultaneously published. Email him at [email protected].