The Salvation Army of Berwick is expanding its Heart Smart Feeding Project, established in 2015 to provide local individuals and families with free, heart-healthy meals twice a week. The initiative also cultivates a nutritious food pantry and holds educational sessions on healthy eating. This project is made possible through a new grant from the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation.
According to the 2016 US Census, 21.4% of Berwick residents suffer from poverty, significantly higher than Pennsylvania’s average rate of 12.9%. Although residents come to The Salvation Army in need of help with clothing, furniture, rent and utilities, the most common and immediate need is food. “Food insecurity,” as it is known, can lead to a variety of health problems.
“Since healthy and nutrient-rich items are more expensive, low-income families often must rely on diets high in fat and low in nutritional value,” said Major Sheryl Hershey, Corps Officer, The Salvation Army of Berwick. This trend leads to increased levels of diabetes, heart disease and other dangerous conditions. The Salvation Army is working to break this pattern through the Health Smart Feeding Project.
The Salvation Army of Berwick has offered twice weekly meals for the past 10 years. Thanks to the recent funding from the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund, the organization has been able to refine its menu to include more nutritious ingredients. These dinners now serve about 525 individuals per month. Meals feature foods such as fresh vegetables, lean meats and beans in alignment with the American Heart Association’s “diet and lifestyle recommendations.”
The Salvation Army of Berwick has also upgraded the contents of its food pantry, which serves 1,200 families every year, offering items such as canned fish, wild rice and low sodium canned vegetables. Additionally, the Health Smart Feeding Project includes a focus on health education. The Salvation Army of Berwick holds information sessions to teach participants of the program the importance of eating right, as well as how to cook a cost-effective balanced meal at home. As a part of the program’s expansion, nutrition-oriented recipe books will be distributed to families to provide them with tangible ways to embrace a healthy lifestyle.
The Salvation Army aims to do the most good to the most people in the most need. The Heart Smart Feeding Project is one of many initiatives created by The Salvation Army in order to further this objective. “Our goal is to support people as they work towards self-sufficiency, living blessed and rewarding lives,” said Hershey.
About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware is a faith-based, comprehensive human service organization whose programs help individuals, families and whole communities lead healthier, safer and more productive lives. Since 1879, The Army has held a record of accomplishment stemming from its holistic approach to providing for the needs of the whole individual – physically, emotionally, economically and spiritually. The Army’s programming serves every zip code through 51 community centers and a network of volunteers throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Delaware. Programs and services include: shelter, hot meals, counseling, early childhood development, recreational opportunities, music programs, after-school arts and educational programs, job training, activities for older adults, spiritual development, and drug rehabilitation.
Mission Statement: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
About the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund:
The Berwick Health and Wellness Fund is the original and largest fund of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation. Its purpose is to improve the health and welfare of residents and communities of eastern Columbia and western Luzerne counties.
For more information, please visit http://www.csgiving.org.