Healthy eating, volunteer opportunities drive SHIM’s Bean Project - SHIM

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Healthy eating, volunteer opportunities drive SHIM’s Bean Project

The Almanac – Five-year-old Lilah Solomon isn’t exactly a fan of beans.

Garbanzos, maybe. She calls them chickpeas. But with some limitations on how they’re prepared:

“No, I don’t like hummus.”

Lilah was among the participants in the latest round of the South Hills Interfaith Movement’s Bean Project, packing bags full of dried beans for distribution at the nonprofit organizations three food pantries.

“It’s not only about feeding people. It’s about feeding people better.
– Jim Guffey, SHIM executive director

“I was looking for a volunteer opportunity that was good for young kids, and this is one of the opportunities I found. We signed up to do it in March, and we are back now for a second round,” her mom, Amanda Lakomy of Whitehall, said. “She likes doing it, and everybody here is really welcoming. And she’s good at it.”

Fifteen volunteers gathered Aug. 1 at SHIM’s Bethel Park center to help serve two purposes, according to executive director Jim Guffey.

“Volunteers are phenomenal, and they really power SHIM,” he said. Issues might arise, though, in providing opportunities that are suitable for youngsters who want to lend a hand.

“So what we created with the bean packing was an opportunity for engagement that would allow for families to come and do it together,” Guffey explained. “This gives us a chance to say to families to come out and volunteer, teaching the next generation the idea of sharing the blessings.”

Another objective addresses the types of food that SHIM distributes.

“When you look at the various nutritional values, we can do better,” Guffey said. “So it’s not only about feeding people. It’s about feeding people better.”

Garbanzo beans, for example, serve as good to excellent sources of several minerals: molybdenum, manganese, copper, phosphorus, iron and zinc. And of course, they always have been recognized for their high fiber content.

SHIM has been conducting Bean Project events every two months. Among the other volunteers in August were Brandon Haas, a Bethel Park resident who will be entering 10th grade at Seton-La Salle High School, and his mother and father, Vince and Myra.

“We’ve actually wanted to volunteer with them in the past, but they’re full,” Vince said about SHIM’S activities. “This time, we called far enough in advance, and they had a couple of openings. So we thought we’d come out and give them a hand, and get him started on his service hours.”

Brandon must complete 20 hours of community service as a sophomore, plus 30 hours as a junior and 40 as a senior, as a graduation requirement.

“I’m here to help out the community and do good work,” he said. “I enjoy it.”

For more information about the South Hills Interfaith Movement, visit

See more photos and read the full story here.

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