Northside Common Ministries

Purposeful Acts Of Kindness This Holiday Season

Dec 22, 2015
Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Today Essential Pittsburgh looks at the work being done to help the neediest at this time of year. From food pantries to the Salvation Army we'll speak with those who exemplify the spirit of giving. No state budget is affecting food banks at this time of year when the need for donations increases. Joining us to discuss how the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is dealing with  the challenge is food bank CEO Lisa Scales. Also taking part in the discussion is Jay Poliziani, executive director of Northside Common Ministries which runs a food bank which does not receive government funding. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Many people are eager to give back during the holiday season, collecting toys for children in low-income families or serving Christmas dinner at a soup kitchen.

The largest food pantry in the region has added another way to donate in the hopes of reaching a wider group of would-be givers. A group of volunteers set up an Amazon Wish List for Northside Food Pantry and selections can be shipped directly to the facility. It’s been up for about a year and has been successful.

“Almost every day, there’s a UPS truck coming here with boxes full of groceries for our pantry that are off of the Amazon Wish List,” said Jay Poliziani, director of Northside Common Ministries and the Pantry.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Mike Caplan and Terese Caldararo are walking through the rows of their garden, pointing out the different fruits, vegetables and herbs they planted this spring.

“We’ve got 25 tomato plants: Cherokee tomato, German Johnson’s, Rutgers. You name it we got it,” Caplan says. “And up front we’ve got peppers, bell peppers, and a lot of banana peppers."

“Different kinds of squash and zucchini: acorn squash, summer squash. We grew lettuce here. We had cilantro, we had parsley and rosemary,” Caldararo adds.

Local Impact of Budget Cuts to Supplemental Food Programs

Dec 13, 2013
Ian Britton / flickr

SNAP Loses Funding for the Poor

Last month, for the first time in its history, cuts were made across America to the food-stamp program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

Pennsylvania's program has lost $183 million; for families and food banks, the impact can be felt most around the holidays.

Catherine Buhrig, Division Director in the Bureau of Policy for the PA Department of Public Welfare and Ken Regal, executive director of Just Harvest, educate people and help them apply for SNAP benefits. 

Buhrig sees firsthand the significance of these cuts to those families that live under the poverty line. 

Representatives of more than a dozen local food banks and other public service organizations made their annual plea to Pittsburgh City Council for Community Development Block Grant funding on Tuesday.

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank asked for $200,000, which is consistent with what they received in years past.