Tri-County supports food bank

Mindee Lyon (left), development manager for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s Healthy Food Hub in Williamsport, accepts a $20,000 check from Bobbi Kilmer, president and CEO of Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative, and Craig Eccher, president and CEO of Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative. The donation will be used to fill COVID-19 crisis response boxes with food products that the Food Bank will distribute to area food pantries. The donation included $5,000 from each electric cooperative, along with $10,000 in matching funds from Co-Bank, a cooperative bank that offers financial services to cooperatives, including Claverack and Tri-County, across rural America.

Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative, Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative and CoBank have teamed up to provide $20,000 to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to assist families in need of food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A $5,000 donation from each of the electric cooperatives, matched by a $10,000 donation from CoBank, one the cooperatives’ lenders, will be used to purchase food to fill crisis response boxes the Food Bank is providing to its distribution partners across Northcentral Pennsylvania.

“We are so thankful to these three organizations for providing much-needed support to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank,” said Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, our team has distributed more than 120,000 crisis response boxes and millions of pounds of fresh produce, milk, eggs, frozen meats and more to our charitable food network, enough to provide more than 14 million meals. We know that the demand will continue to increase as there continues to be a huge economic impact from the crisis. Support like this helps us provide the healthiest foods available to those in need in our communities.”

In response to heightened demand for nutritional assistance due to COVID-19, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank began packing crisis response boxes filled with non-perishable food to meet the needs of its distribution network in the 27-county area it serves.

This network includes local food pantries, soup kitchens, churches and community organizations that provide nutritional assistance to the public.

Many of these partners are within the cooperatives’ service territories across the state’s Northern Tier.

“Electric cooperatives are committed to supporting our local communities,” said Bobbi Kilmer, president and CEO of Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative. “With so many people out of work and experiencing financial hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to help ensure families in our region have food on their tables during this unprecedented time of need.”

Claverack and Tri-County funded its portions of the Food Bank donation through the use of unclaimed capital credits refunds, which all electric cooperatives in Pennsylvania are permitted to retain and use in support of community and low-income energy assistance programs.

“We are proud to be able to help support our local food pantries meet the increased demand caused by the coronavirus,” said Craig Eccher, president and CEO of Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative. “We’re all in this together, and we hope by lending our assistance, we will be able to lessen the burden of our friends and neighbors who have been negatively impacted by job loss and other economic challenges.”

Jennifer Sands, communications and marketing manager for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, said the food bank distributed 44% more food during April than it had in April 2019.

She said the food bank’s demand for food continues to increase, and it is expected that crisis response boxes will be provided to the Food Bank’s partners through at least the end of September.

Sands also noted the food bank has seen an outpouring of support from businesses, industry, charitable organizations and individuals since the pandemic began.

“The community has stepped up big time to help us out,” she said.

Sands said the primary need for the food bank is financial donations to support its mission to provide nourishment to families throughout central Pennsylvania. The food bank is currently not accepting direct food donations from individuals or community organizations.

To make a contribution to the food bank or to find your nearest food pantry, visit www.centralpafoodbank.org or call 1-877-999-5964.

About Claverack and Tri-County

Claverack Rural Electric Cooperative, based in Wysox, Pa., and Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative, with headquarters in Mansfield, Pa., are member-owned, non-profit utilities that provide electricity to over 32,000 consumer-members across Northcentral and Northeastern Pennsylvania.

About CoBank

CoBank, based in Greenwood Village, Colo., is one of the largest private providers of credit to the rural economy, delivering loans, leases and other financial services to agribusiness and rural infrastructure in all 50 states. Every year, CoBank partners with its customers to help build vibrant rural communities through its signature Sharing Success matching grant program. In the eight years since Sharing Success was established, CoBank and its customers have together contributed more than $36 million to charitable organizations across the country.

About Central Pennsylvania Food Bank

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce hunger in 27 counties across Pennsylvania. By working with more than 1,000 local agencies and partner programs, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank serves thousands of people in need every month. For more information on the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and its mission to reduce hunger in Pennsylvania, visit centralpafoodbank.org or call 570-321-8023.