Geisinger is partnering with Giant and Central Susquehanna Opportunities to pilot a mobile food pantry that will serve food-insecure people living in the Central Susquehanna Valley.
Giant is committing a total of $597,000 to fund the mobile pantry, including a donation of $325,000 in 2023 in honor of its 100th anniversary to cover startup costs for the initiative. Expected to launch in early 2024, the mobile food pantry will aim to provide fresh, healthy food to 75 households in its first year.
“We’re grateful to The Giant Company and CSO for their collaboration in bringing healthy food to underserved communities,” said Nancy Lawton-Kluck, Geisinger’s chief philanthropy officer. “It’s a privilege to work with community leaders who share our values as we contribute to healthier, more vibrant neighborhoods.”
According to the state Department of Human Services, more than a million Pennsylvanians were food insecure in 2022, Giant noted.
Geisinger screens patients to understand their social needs, including food insecurity, and get them connected to local community resources. Among Geisinger patients who have taken an adult social needs screening, nearly 10,500 have worried they would run out of food before having resources to buy more, and more than 3,800 have reported the same concern across Columbia, Montour, Northumberland and Snyder counties.
As an extension of Geisinger’s food-is-health strategy designed to help people with challenges accessing healthy food live well and manage diet-responsive conditions, the client-choice mobile food pantry will launch in targeted underserved areas. The mobile unit will be available for anyone in the community in need of food assistance.
The mobile food pantry is the latest in a long list of projects for which Giant has partnered with Geisinger to improve health and quality of life for local communities. This includes previous commitments to the Fresh Food Farmacy program, Children’s Miracle Network and Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. In total, Giant has given more than $8.5 million to Geisinger programs, facilities and initiatives.
“Reducing food insecurity, increasing access to healthy foods and promoting nutrition is a priority for The Giant Company,” said Nick Koch, head of wellbeing at Giant. “When Geisinger approached us with their idea for a mobile food pantry to help address these issues in their community, we knew we wanted to be a part of it. We look forward to seeing the positive impact this life-changing program will have on families across the central Susquehanna Valley.”
[Read more: Giant releases community impact report]
CSO, a community action agency for Columbia, Montour and Northumberland counties, will staff the unit with a community health worker, driver and volunteers, and the pantry alkso will provide nutrition education, and referrals to Geisinger for any clinical care needs. CSO is a partner agency of the Central PA Food Bank.
Because 37% of Geisinger patients who reported food insecurity also identified more than one social need, Neighborly, an easy-to-use online search tool for free and reduced-cost community resources will be available on kiosks or mobile devices at distribution sites. To learn more about Neighborly, visit neighborlypa.com.