York County food pantries ready to help during coronavirus crisis

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch

As Pennsylvania's coronavirus mitigation efforts lead to more job losses, area food banks say they're able to help — for now.

The southern branch of the YMCA in York County wrapped up its first week of free food distribution since the coronavirus outbreak early Friday afternoon.

Assistant director Ginia Bishop said the organization is not experiencing any food shortages.

“Right now, we still have a hallway filled with boxes of food,” she said.

At the Catholic Harvest Food Pantry in York City, which serves more than 750 clients a month, the food supply is not nearly as plentiful.

“We’re not doing too bad, but we’re really short of fresh produce stuff,” Executive Director Kris Pollick said Friday. “I can tell you I am starting to see a decrease in retail donations, and yesterday was the first time I didn’t have bread.”

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Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all "non-life-sustaining" businesses in the state to close until further notice, vastly expanding his coronavirus mitigation efforts. The response has led to a surge in layoffs in Pennsylvania.

Starting next week, the YMCA’s Southern Community Services Food Pantry is switching its hours and moving to a drive-up distribution as part of social distancing.

The pantry will open at 9 a.m. Monday and 1 p.m. Wednesday at the YMCA of York Southern Branch, located at 100 Constitution Ave. in Shrewsbury.

“The pantry will stay open a minimum of one hour or until we serve everyone in line and resources permit,” said Mike Smith, the branch's executive director. ”Delivery service will be available for anyone unable to get here. 

“It will be a drive-up distribution only, so people should remain in their car. Staff encourage only one person per household to come to pick up food.”

Distribution hours at Catholic Harvest Food Pantry, located at 628 E. Market St. in York City, are 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Smith said families who need delivery should call SCS at 717-235-0446 and leave a message and someone will return the call to schedule delivery. 

SCS is a United Way-funded program that serves low- and moderate-income students in the Southern, South Eastern, Dallastown and Red Lion school districts.

“The pantry is well-stocked and has 50-plus boxes prepared to give away next week," Smith said Friday.

Distribution hours at Catholic Harvest Food Pantry, located at 628 E. Market St. in York City, are 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are a few additional times available during the month as well.

“We created a shopping form people can fill out and submit online, and then we will pre-pack their meals so they are ready when they show up,” Pollick said. “People can also call in their orders from 9 to 11 a.m. each day for an appointment.”

She said clients must practice social distancing and stay outside while their orders are being packaged.

“Our evening sessions, we serve between 25 and 30 families,” Pollick said. “On Thursday, we had 77 families in three hours. We’re staying pretty steady.”

New Hope Ministries remains open as a food pantry and is serving families at various locations, including in Dillsburg, at 99 W. Church St.

The primary mode is pre-boxed food via a "zero-contact" drive-up model with volunteers bringing food to cars, the organization said in a news release. Mobile pantries remain in operation, but with limited hours.

Financial donations, food and personal care donations still are needed, including perishable food from restaurants or other food service industries.

Interested volunteers can call New Hope at 717-432-2087 or stop by to help when they are open.

Bishop said other local food banks have been quick to offer assistance during the coronavirus crisis.

“The York County Food Bank and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank (in Harrisburg) have both been very supportive and have offered to help increase our service deliveries in order to meet the needs of our families,” she said.

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.