Food pantries rely on Fox Chapel Church’s Fill the Truck event to restock their shelves

In his 20 years of running a food pantry in Indiana Township, Gil Cutruzzula said he could count on donations dropping right after the Christmas holiday — the same time the need increased.

“It’s like clockwork,” said Cutruzzula, pantry manager at the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center on Charles Street.

“The large food banks that help us with supplies are in decline, so we have a great need for non-perishable products. There is always a lull.

Enter Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, whose members are stepping up at just the right time with the annual Fill the Truck fundraiser.

The event is seeking enough food and household items to fill a box truck divided among three local food pantries: Three Rivers Council, Bread of Life in Etna and St. Vincent De Paul in Sharpsburg.

“They come for us, without fail, every year,” Cutruzzula said.

This year’s event will take place on February 4 from 8 a.m. to noon in the church parking lot along Fox Chapel and Field Club roads.

Deacon Megan Sweringen said it was a wonderful opportunity for volunteers of all ages to work together to sort, pack and fill the truck.

Last year, 265 boxes of cereal, paper plates, juice and pasta were distributed.

The same charities will benefit again this year.

Pastor Rebecca DePoe said the choices were deliberate because all three food pantries serve families in the Fox Chapel Area School District.

Alexis Weber, longtime director of the Etna Food Bank, said she relies on donations from the church to help the pantry during the winter months.

“We flood in November and December,” she said. “It’s really nice that this food drive takes place every year after the holidays and helps us replenish our supplies. »

Weber is looking for deposits of soups, crackers, peanut butter and boxed meals to fill the shelves after serving more than 1,500 families year-round.

Pain de Vie saw an increase of approximately 15%, or 200 additional families last year. The pantry will serve about 1,300 in 2022.

“We are still in desperate need of crackers, soups and condiments,” Weber said.

In Sharpsburg, the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry is run out of the basement of St. Mary’s Church along Ninth Street.

Founded in 1954, it serves about 150 families per month, which means about 300 people receive enough food to supplement their monthly grocery budget with a box full of shelf-stable items.

Cutruzzula said an added benefit of church donations is that the items supplement what each family can take home.

“It helps fill their box a little more,” he said.

Most needed items include oatmeal, soup, cereal and oatmeal.

“Canned vegetables are also helpful because you can keep them longer,” Cutruzzula said.

Anyone who can deliver food to seniors or homebound people is welcome to access the pantry, he said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a TribLive reporter. She joined the Trib in 1997. She can be reached at tpanizzi@triblive.com.

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