Berachah Church Food Pantry in Cheltenham to Benefit Concert
By Kaitlyn Foti
During one of the busiest times of the year, the Berachah Church Food Pantry in Cheltenham is organizing a benefit concert as a thank you to its volunteers and donors.
The pantry started a little more than a year ago, and partnering with Philabundance, it has provided food for more than 400 families in Cheltenham and Philadelphia. The pantry has received grants from Philabundance and ShopRite, but it also relies on the generosity of the church’s congregants and the community, said director Jeannette Hood.
“The food that we get for the pantry, if we don’t get grants, we have to buy that. So we wanted to have a thank you to all of the people who have been helping out along the way,” Hood said.
Hood has been organizing the concert for a few months, and is planning to hold it at the church, 400 Ashbourne Road, in Cheltenham from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 8. The Cheltenham High School ensemble and a cappella groups will be performing, along with a few other tentative performers with whom Hood is working.
The concert will be free and open to the public, but the pantry encourages those who attend to bring canned or boxed foods, or a monetary donation to the pantry.
Part of the goal is to get the word about the pantry out into the community.
“We have over 400 families registered, and we serve an average of 100 a week,” Hood said. “We would really just like to get the word out, though. Even though we’re serving that many, I am not sure how many people are aware that we’re here.”
The pantry is different in several ways from traditional food pantries. For one, the registration process is simple.
“There is no discrimination. If you tell us you have a need, we believe you. We have a brief registration form. A lot of people are working and still need to utilize the pantry. If your washer breaks, it’s like, do I buy food or fix the washer? So we’re here if you need a little help for a week or two, and we’re here for some families who have been coming since we opened,” Hood said.
When the Berachah Church opened the pantry and partnered with Philabundance, the Philadelphia organization encouraged it to become a “choice of food” pantry. Because the church had a separate building to dedicate to the pantry, it was able to oblige.
“The food is set up on shelves and they can pick and choose what they’re going to eat. There is less waste, because they know what they or their kids will eat. What really struck us is that it really preserves people’s dignity. We give them ownership to choose what they are going to eat,” Hood said.
The pantry, located at the church, is open for registration and food distribution Thursday mornings from 9:30 to 11 a.m. On Friday afternoons, the pantry also serves as a produce distribution point, where fresh produce is given out by Philabundance.