South Hills-Mon Valley Messenger – More than 90 volunteers from the South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) helped families in need on June 20 at Bethel Park High School. One of a series of food drives during the COVID-19 pandemic, this distribution aided about 600 households.
Cars started lining up on Church Road near the Spencer Family YMCA shortly after 9 a.m. All told, more than 300 cars were served during the event. While slightly smaller than May distribution at South Hills Village Mall and in Washington County, this drive served a necessary purpose.
“We are in the green phase, but a lot of folks are still finding it hard to make ends meet,” said SHIM executive director Jim Guffey. “That is going to linger on for the months, and maybe year ahead.”
Volunteers unloaded trucks placed boxes of non-perishable food, frozen food and fresh produce into cars from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
“We are hitting all the staples that are needed to survive,” Guffey said. “Our volunteers are second to none. Without the volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do this. They understand that it’s neighbors helpings neighbors.”
Guffey also thanked the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, Bethel Park district officials and the Bethel Park Police Department for their help in directing traffic and lending a hand when needed.
Since March, when SHIM began offering drive-through food pantries, it has seen a 28 percent increase in people seeking help with basic needs like food and financial assistance. In April alone, SHIM’s pantries served 745 households and nearly 2,400 individuals, with nearly half of the pantry visitors being new.