Patty Hersh was busy organizing the Hunger Walk outside the Northern Lehigh Food Bank on May 2. With 45 preregistered she thought the walk would do well.
People could choose from a two or four-mile walk along the rail trail. The food bank and hike are sponsored by13 local churches. All money raised in the walk benefits the food bank.
Shirts from a previous walk and worn by many said, "Live simply so others can simply live."
People were invited inside to see the expanded food bank. "The space is awesome. It fills my dreams. There is room to spread things out. Clients and volunteers are both pleased with the extra space," said Director Dale Breyfogle.
Apart from the extra space for food storage, there are two 8-by-10-foot walk-in cold-storage areas in the rear of the building - one a cooler and one a freezer.
"Donations come almost every day - the community meeting the needs of the community," said Breyfogle. "Clients are able to make their own choices just as they would at a grocery store."
And the donation for that day was a truckload of boxes of supplies from Union United Church of Christ.
The food bank is open the first three Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. and the last Saturday of the month from 9:30 a.m. to noon. There are special hours for holiday meals before Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.
It requires 12 volunteers to man the distribution stations and more to push carts to deliver choices to cars for clients, said Carol Connolly, who volunteers at the bank.
Pastor David Mohr of Friedens United Church of Christ was master of ceremonies for the dedication. On behalf of the Pastoral Association, food bank and its board of directors he thanked those who came to the dedication and walk.
"It is a special occasion. We started small and grew. Through the township we have this addition. We want to get you walkers on the path as soon as possible," he said as he introduced Rep. Julie Harhart.
She began by saying it is a beautiful food bank which does a great service. There are thousands of people in Pennsylvania who are going hungry. With the economy what it is, she said people have to decide what to pay and sometimes food is shortchanged. It is also a place where people can drop off donations.
Ann McManus, director of Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley, said the food bank has been in Northern Lehigh for 22 years. "You treat your clients with such dignity. You are number 74 and we have 540 food banks (in the state) so you've been here a long time.
Washington Township Supervisor Josh Friebolin said the legwork had been done before he was elected supervisor. He pointed out that the municipal office and garages were once located in the small building. "We should thank the people who wrote the grant applications. Washington Township is committed to this project," he said.
Mohr recognized Pastor David Hess for beginning the Northern Lehigh Pastoral Association which supports the food bank. Pastor Bill Ritzenthaler has been active in collecting food, Mohr said.
Breyfogle said she is proud of the area because whenever she needs volunteers they are there. "Our clients are so pleased. They feel like they count. They can choose what they need."
She said support comes from federal, state, county, local municipalities and the people. Without that support she could not do her job.
"I give my hours and it gives me so much joy," said Breyfogle.
In his dedication prayer, Pastor James LeVan, liaison to the Pastoral Association, thanked God for this partnership. The bank started at St. John's Lutheran Church and now enjoys the hospitality of Washington Township. God called and some fine servants answered. He said people should walk in fellowship and ministry on the rail trail.
Patty Hersh, Hunger Walk organizer, asked what she was supposed to do when she volunteered to organize the walk. She was told to do whatever she wanted to do. She expects to continue as organizer and invites everyone to join them on the first Sunday of May, 2011.