The Partnership has identified goals for its work:
- Increase access to and utilization of public and private food assistance programs;
- Increase outreach and community engagement to address food insecurity;
- Develop a weekend food program in partnership with local school districts;
- Continue to support and promote the Summer Food Program in partnership with local school districts and community site partners.
These goals are based on the Hunger Profile and Scorecard information for Greene County along with comments and issues identified at the 2011 Hunger Summit.
History and Background
The Greene County Food Security Partnership was organized in June 2011 when several members of the community attended a meeting of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership (an affiliate of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank). The regional group encouraged each county to establish their own locally led, issue focused Partnership. Since June 2011, the Greene County Partnership has more than 60 partners who support the activities to end food insecurity in our area.
The 2011 Greene County Hunger Summit identified a several local hunger-related issues and concerns, which became the priority areas and for the Partnership. The work of the Greene County Partnership has become a model for other county partnerships in the southwest region.
Greene County is a part of rural Appalachia in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. The absence of jobs over decades has led to the rise in generational poverty in isolated populations making food insecurity prevalent and complicated.
According to the Hunger Profile for Greene County prepared by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the data for the community is staggering:
- Poverty rate of 16.3% (5,818) persons, including:
- 20.4% of children 18 years old and under (1,588) and
- 10.1% (554) of all seniors age 65 and over.
- High unemployment (7.8%) (2012) exists despite the increasing jobs available as a result of the gas and oil industry boom, partially due to low literacy, lack of skills and drug/alcohol abuse.
All of these issues impact how individuals and families access food.
- 5,670 persons (14.3%) are food insecure in Greene, including 2,090 children (25.9%) despite the availability of food resources
- 4,836 (40%) of persons eligible for SNAP are not participating in the program
- 9,010 (82%) of eligible persons are not participating in charitable food assistance programs offered through the Corner Cupboard Food Bank pantries, Produce to People, soup kitchens and other programs
- 24% of eligible children are not participating in the school lunch program
- 58% of eligible children are not participating in the school breakfast program
It was this data, presented that the Hunger Summit and discussed among the partners attending the Greene County Food Security Partnership that caused us to recognize there were significant issues in our community that keep individuals and families from accessing these available resources.
Issues identified through the Hunger Summit focus groups include:
- Lack of knowledge about available resources
- Lack of transportation
- Low literacy
- High levels of pride and independence
- Children going hungry in school because their parents can’t understand the application for Free and Reduced School Meals to complete it
- Seniors unable to carry their food boxes into their home
- Families unable to get to the pantry or Produce to People because the have no car
These are the issues which the participants in the Greene County Food Security Partnership agreed need to be addressed as part of their efforts.