The Somerset County Mobile Food Bank is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that consists of a group of volunteers gathered together to
provide food for the people in Somerset County.
We are not attempting to take the place of other Food distributions already in place. We invite you to get involved with your local
area food banks and food pantries. The food, they provide during their regular schedules and the holidays, helps to ensure that people do not go hungry during the year.
That is, as long as people have transportation to these services.
Through experience and resident communications, we discovered a need that many people have no means to get to these services on a regular basis. Therefore, to meet that need, the Somerset County Mobile Food Bank was developed.
To assist in providing access to food resources to meet the needs of our neighbors in Somerset County, using a system with central and mobile food distribution means.
The system is intended to be collaborative with local food pantries and to augment their efforts to maximize available food resources. The system also seeks to involve local food producers by using their donated food or food they may sell to program partners in the distribution system.
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Laurel Vista Farm
President - Reverend Barry Ritenour
Vice President - Tina Knott
Secretary - David Greene
Treasurer - Martin Palguta
Legal Counsel - Mathew Melvin
Susan Barclay, Brian McGowan, Cindy Moore, Tom Shaffer, Ken Soldano, Brian Whipkey, Cindy Brant Berton Shaffer and David Mahler
Communications - Susan Barclay and Brian Whipkey
Truck & Trailer Compliance - Brian McGowan
Drivers - Brian McGowan and David Greene
Grants - David Greene and Tina Knott
Registration - David Greene and Tina Knott
Fund Raising & Facebook - Tina Knott
Food Purchasing - Barry Ritenour and Brian McGowan
Volunteer Coordinator - Tom Shaffer
Warehouse - Ken Soldano
Web Site - Scott Hofmann
Vehicle Operators - Ed Staats and Rick Stout
Laurel Vista Farm - Ken Soldano, Marian Soldano, Rick Stafford and Rita Stafford
Pastor Barry Ritenour of Bethany Methodist Church in Somerset interned with the GPCFB in the summer of 2011 and did a survey of the costs of different food items in stores in the outlying areas of Somerset County. He noticed that folks were having a difficult time getting adequate food. He investigated how this impacted area residents. Based on 100 lbs. of food each week, he found that folks who live outside of Somerset proper had to pay between $3,500-$5,000 more per year to purchase the same food as those who live near or in Somerset, where residents could buy food at Walmart or Giant Eagle.
GPCFB was tasked by Feeding America to provide an additional 750,000 pounds of food to Somerset. A delegation of interested people from Somerset, led by Dave Greene and Pastor Ritenour, went to Fayette County to view the distribution of food under the Produce to People program for that County. It was replicated in Somerset and “Produce to People” was started in September 2011.
Through this initiative 25-30,000 pounds of fresh food was provided each month to residents within Somerset proper. The Somerset Junior High School and the Farmer's Market at Georgian Place, provided space for distribution, together with help for setup and cleanup. Dave Greene from Saint Peter’s Catholic Church and Pastor Barry were the coordinators. Dave and Pastor Barry realized they needed to do something to help GPCFB to expand this project to the folks living in the outlying areas around Somerset.
Pastor Barry searched for a program to bring to Somerset County and found one in Michigan that took the food to those who needed it. Upon speaking with them, he started looking for trailers that would meet our needs. Pastor Barry took the idea to SAM and they approved the project in January of 2012.
In February of 2012, Pastor Barry invited a cross section of business leaders, church leaders and others from throughout Somerset County to join the Board of Directors. The original Board was made up of Reverend Barry Ritenour, Chairman, Tom Shaffer, Vice Chairman, Martin Palguta; CPA, Treasurer and Dave Greene, Secretary, the Reverend Will Osman, the Reverend Brenda Shaffer, Susan Barclay, Brian McGowan, Tina Knott, Neil Hoffman, Sr., Cindy Moore; Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Holly Beckner; the Salvation Army, Brian Whipkey, Editor; The Daily American, Russ Merryman, the Reverend Dale Shunk and the Reverend Arnie McFarland.
In March of 2012, Somerset County Mobile Food Bank (SCMFB) was
officially created. A used beer keg trailer was found in Kansas City. $18,000 was needed to purchase and get it to Pennsylvania. A call was put out to folks who could help and soon the money was made available.
We have great support from the community. Morocco Welding and Herring Motors have loaned us tractors to pull the trailer, at no cost. Luther P. Miller, provides fuel for the tractor and refer unit. Ken Soldano of Laurel Vista Farms offered his warehouse, coolers and his farm employees to unload and reload each month, again at no cost.
Local volunteers and organizations have been donating time and money to keep us operational. We have over 200 volunteers in ten locations distributing fresh and canned food each month.
SCMFB with other social service organizations, continues to provide for the needs of people in Somerset County. There are many ways you can become involved. Join with us in helping others through your donations of time, money, prayers, and food. Thanks for any assistance you are able to provide.