The Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC), which is the county’s lead anti-poverty agency, was recently awarded a two-year grant of $30,000 to help fight food insecurity in Bucks County. The grant will be distributed in two $15,000 installments, one this year and one next year.
BCOC does not offer a “cookie cutter” or “one size fits all” approach, as poverty is complicated, and each person has a story and a path that is unique. Grants like this from the Pierce Family Foundation, allow us to help support each person’s individual path.
For over 55 years, BCOC has served low-income families in Bucks County by helping them to stabilize when in crisis, garner resources to achieve a livable wage, gain additional education and training, and work towards economic self-sufficiency.
BCOC’s food program expands each year to meet growing need, but absolutely exploded this past year during the COVID-19 crisis, serving more than triple the number of families in some areas of Bucks County. There were 73,700 visits to the food pantry partners, helping 10,376 households, and over 3.4 million pounds of food were distributed. BCOC believes that before clients can work toward long-term self-sufficiency, they need two things: safe and affordable housing and freedom from hunger.
“During the pandemic, our neighbors faced hunger – many for the first time. BCOC stepped up and was able to meet participants where they were,” says Amanda Musselman, BCOC’s Food program manager. “Through neighborhood distributions and home deliveries, we were able to start conversations and provide a connection that translated beyond emergency food services.”
Often, it is through the relationships established through the food program visits that BCOC communicates with residents and can offer other services: the Economic Self-Sufficiency Program, Emergency Services, Weatherization, and Volunteer Income Tax Preparation (VITA). During the 2019-2020 program year, BCOC served 57,837 people in 19,344 households across all five programs areas.