The Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative Board recognized the efforts of Shepherd House Food Pantry.

During a recent meeting of the organization, Stanley Haupt, executive director for Shepherd House, spoke to the group about the program and the people the pantry serves.

Haupt said during 2009, Shepherd House provided 235,527 meals to 11,140 households, or 29,910 people. The total spent on meals was $120,802.95.

Funds raised to allow the group to provide food assistance to families in need are through individual, church, business, and organization donations, as well as through the United Way of Carbon County and through state and federal grants.

Haupt said the organization saw an increase of between 20 and 30 percent in the number of people in need of food assistance in 2009. This is due to hard economic times and rising unemployment rates.

To be eligible to receive assistance from the food pantry, a family of four must meet the required household income guidelines. To find out more information on guidelines, visit the food pantry in your town. Pantries are located in the following towns, Beaver Meadows, Jim Thorpe, Lansford, Lehighton, Nesquehoning, Palmerton, Summit Hill, Tresckow, and Weatherly. For times and locations, visit http://bensalemucc.com/FoodBank.html [1].

It was also announced that Shepherd House recently was named the recipient of $46,033 for the Emergency Food and Shelter program. These funds come from the Emergency Food and Shelter program under the United Way of America.

The money will be used by Carbon County agencies to provide services of food, mass shelter, other shelter, rental/mortgage, and/or utilities to county residents in need.

Agencies can apply for use of this money by submitting a letter and proposal so Stanley P. Haupt, Shepherd House Inc., 1067 Main Road, Lehighton, PA 18235-9066, fax (610) 379-5675, call (610) 377-6048, or e-mail bookworm@ptd.net [2].

Deadline to apply is Feb. 1.

In other matters, board member Evalynn Kuehner announced that the Right From The Start program received a $10,000 grant from the First Federal Charitable Foundation. The money will be used to support the continuation of two home visitors for the Parents as Teachers program.

She also announced that the SHINE after-school program is starting a middle school career club for students. The five-week program will educate students on various occupational fields. It is slated to being on Jan. 25, at L.B. Morris Elementary in Jim Thorpe.

Jeanne Miller, co-chairperson of the Carbon County Child and Family Collaborative Board, praised the group's efforts since its inception in 2002. Since the collaborative began, numerous programs to help children and families grow have been created in the area and are being expanded. Currently, there are initiatives available to children and families from birth up to middle school age. A new program, Community Engagement, is in the process of being organized to help promote early care and education in children.

Larissa Kimmel of the Carbon-Monroe-Pike MH/MR said that the organization offers children's respite to families caring for children with mental health or mental retardation. The respite program provides families with short-term relief from the challenges of caring for a child with disabilities.

Susan Tyler of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Mark Nalesnik, Carbon County Emergency Management Agency coordinator, talked about the recent H1N1 clinics held throughout the state, and urged residents who have not yet been vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus to do so. Vaccinations will be distributed at Department of Health offices over the next four Saturdays.