Long before a free milk giveaway began at Good Samaritan Parish in Ambridge Thursday morning, cars were lined up around the block.
Volunteers sprang into action when the milk truck arrived, handing out up to two gallons per family. Some brought milk to a local senior center. Police officers also helped make deliveries.
Food insecurity continues to grow across southwestern Pennsylvania. Nearly one in every five Beaver County residents lives below 150 percent of the poverty rate, according to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, as the coronavirus continues to spread.
“These are people who I call ‘COVID-poor’,” said Cindy Deschaine, who helped start a food pantry as director of outreach for the Beaver Valley parishes of The Great Grouping. “They worked and had a steady income until the virus hit. Now many have been told their jobs are not coming back.”
The American Dairy Association North East partnered with Schneider’s Dairy, AMI Food Group and local organizations including Good Samaritan Parish to distribute more than 4,000 gallons of milk in the region this week.
“We are happy to help,” said spokesman John Chrisman. “People are hurting.”
The giveaways are made possible by the government-funded Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which has distributed more than a half-million gallons of milk since June. When restaurants and schools shut down, dairy farmers had to get their milk to market, and people needed the nutrition.
“There is no grocery store in Ambridge,” Deschaine said. “This gives us a boost, and we today also received 25 prepared meals from Costco.
“When people arrive here we see tears of joy and tears of humility,” she said. “By the time they leave they have felt the love of God and His grace.”
Below: The milk giveaway took place outside Good Samaritan’s food pantry, which is supported the four parishes in The Great Grouping and the community