About Pitcare Inc.
Pitcare Inc. grew from the vision that two couples had for becoming good neighbors in the economically challenged town of Pitcairn, Pa. They provide programs that help to provide food, education, and work training. As a food pantry, they help provide much needed food and supplies for community members in need and provide food for families who find themselves in emergency situations. Pitcare feeds around 140 families every month. They want to provide an inviting and empowering space for the Pitcairn community.
PA Healthy Pantry Initiative (PA HPI) and a partnership with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
The Pennsylvania Healthy Pantry Initiative (PA HPI) is a project of Feeding Pennsylvania in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Through these partnerships, Feeding PA is working with its member food banks to increase access to healthy food within food pantries and increase consumption of healthy food by pantry clients through various promotion methods. Seven nutrition educators have been hired across the state to work directly with the food pantries in their service areas.
The Process: The Behind the Scenes of the Partnership
- Greater Pittsburgh nutrition educator ran a baseline assessment test to analyze the successes and opportunities of the food pantry
- After the baseline assessment, the nutrition educator did an HPI training for pantry employees and volunteers
- The Pitcare team worked with the nutrition educator to help purchase new shelving and provided Pa HPI “shelf talkers” as well as other nutrition resources
- Pitcare transitioned from a limited modified choice pantry to a fully choice pantry
The Impact: Impacts of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank + Pitcare Food Pantry Partnership
According to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank nutrition educator, starting out, the director of operations shared that she was interested in making their pantry like a grocery store. At the time they were providing pre-packed boxes, with some produce, canned options, frozen and refrigerated. The Pitcare team worked with the nutrition educator to help purchase new shelving and provided Pa HPI “shelf talkers” to help direct the families of the pantry to make healthy decisions. She wanted to provide a dignified space to get healthy food options. With the Pa HPI environmental changes, she was able to have aesthetically pleasing and practical shelving to help take their pantry from a limited modified choice pantry to a fully choice pantry. Pitcare Inc. also has expanded their distribution from every other Thursday for two hours, to every Monday from 10am to 7pm.
“We have actually seen an increases in the number of folks coming into our pantry again. They have more time to come and can come more frequently. We have found that Choice model is less volunteer intensive, our volunteers are now stocking and guiding our families rather than packing boxes. The choice model has also been especially useful for the folks who walk to the pantry because they can take what they need and now can come more frequently through the month. We are seeing much more fresh produce being used as well because they have more flexibility with the pantry.” Pitcare Inc. Operations Director Heather Luimes.