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Food Center still serving the community after 22 years

The volunteers of the Food Center at the Morrisville Presbyterian Church have provided food for needy families in the Lower Bucks County and Trenton areas for the past 22 years. 

Nothing – not even the coronavirus – has stopped them from doing their charitable work.

In the past few years, a team of 50 volunteers work together each week – packing bags, receiving food deliveries, distributing food to clients and a host of other tasks. 

On Tuesday mornings the team receives fresh food deliveries from Philabundance, Giant and McCaffrey’s markets. 

On Wednesday mornings, needy clients are able to choose their own produce with the assistance of 10 to 15 volunteer shoppers while the rest of the team is involved in registering clients, keeping food displays full, loading and unloading shopping carts of food into clients’ cars. 

When in full operation, the Food Center is the only fresh-produce entry in the area, servicing 5,000 families each year.

With the advent of COVID19, the Food Center Executive Committee decided to modify the distribution process so that the needs of the community could still be met. 

Although produce deliveries have been discontinued, clients still receive overflowing bags of non-perishables, breads and meats. 

They also receive $10 gift cards to Giant and Shoprite markets or the Morrisville Garden Market to help fill the gaps in their food supply.

On the first Tuesday night of the month and every Wednesday morning, a corps of five masked volunteers carry out a drive-through operation.  Clients stay in their cars and drive around the circular driveway for socially-distanced, contactless food pickups. 

The volunteers speak through opened car windows to determine their need and to check in on how clients are faring in these trying times.  Clients then pull their cars up to the church building to retrieve the food bags that have been placed on the outside bench by volunteers.

The volunteers report that it has been rewarding to see familiar faces, those of clients who visit the Food Center on a regular basis, and to wish them well. 

Several recent clients have not been to the Food Center in 10 to 12 years, but now return to it as a safe haven that helped them all those years ago. 

There are also new faces: of the 312 families that have visited in the past eight weeks, 105 are new to the Food Center. 

These are mostly families out of work and looking for ways to put food on the table. 

Many of them are proud people who have never needed food assistance before, and they make sure to say so.

“The expressions of gratitude and thanks are overwhelming. A few folks have even broken down in tears,” says Carol Romano, a member of the nine-volunteer Executive Committee. “Clearly, the choice to remain operational and keep the Food Center mission going was the right decision.”

Many thanks go to all the volunteers: those who pack bags, stock shelves, breakdown cardboard cartons, move and sort food, pick up and distribute food, bag rice, answer emails, maintain our database, write thank-you notes, purchase gift cards, greet clients, take out the garbage and recycling, direct traffic. 

All volunteers – those on the front line and those behind the scenes – are the heart and soul of the Food Center.

Readers of this article may help by purchasing the $10 gift cards to Giant, Shoprite, or the Morrisville Garden markets. 

You may deliver gift cards to volunteers on Wednesday mornings from 9:00am to 11:30am. 

Financial donations may be mailed to the Food Center, Morrisville Presbyterian Church, 771 North Pennsylvania Avenue, Morrisville, PA 19067.

Carol Romano, Drew Hunger and Lori Goldstein contributed to the writing of this article.