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Bethany Wesleyan Church hosts egg sale event to benefit local farm

Sunday morning following a church service held at Becky’s Drive-In, several members of Bethany Wesleyan’s congregation in Cherryville headed over to the church’s main campus parking lot to show support to farmers by purchasing flats of eggs.

Cars were uniformly lined up in what resembled a parade, with traffic stretching as far back as the Turkey Hill on Route 248. Pastor Kevin Fetterhoff and wife Pam Fetterhoff were sure that their efforts to sell and distribute eggs would draw a crowd.

Nearly 30 miles south of Reading, Lehigh Valley farmer Josh Zimmerman of Kempton had faced a predicament in business disruptions in recent weeks due to the coronavirus.

Like so many other businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the pandemic, Zimmerman, a poultry farmer, found himself in a difficult position. Chickens just don’t stop laying eggs. Flocks have grown beyond control as processing plants have closed, and the egg buyers that had relied on Zimmerman for distribution stopped buying them. Unable to sell their birds, the farmers are being forced to euthanize large portions of their flocks.

ConAgra’s Egg Beaters company was one that Zimmerman’s farm had supplied. But weeks ago it had slowed operations, as did the restaurant industry along with schools and various establishments that were forced to cease operations, even if only temporarily, a domino effect within the farming industry, and some farmers have had no choice but to euthanize their chickens all throughout Pennsylvania as well as the entire country.

More than 200,000 chickens have been euthanized in Pennsylvania over the past month alone. Demand for meat and eggs has slowed during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving farmers struggling to manage increased flocks. In some instances, the demand for eggs at other Pennsylvania farms has decreased, leading to even more birds being put down.

Zimmerman was facing losses of at least $15,000 due to increased spending on chicken food. He was advised to either increase egg sales to 30,000 per day or euthanize half of his 80,000 chickens. So, in what was a bit of a scramble, the farm opted to host egg sales in hopes this would help decrease having to euthanize birds.

It all came together when the Fetterhoffs, Bethany Wesleyan’s lead pastor Kevin along with wife Pam and daughter Kelly, visited The Nesting Box Farmers Market and Creamery in Kempton, whose eggs are from Zimmerman’s farm, and is well-known for their homemade ice cream, using local, healthy, quality ingredients that come from and are served by an authentic farming family.

Just days before, BWC’s Palmerton discipleship pastor Laura Kichline said, “The Kempton community center hosted an egg sale event with a turnout resulting in a few hundred cars.”

She said that “our mission is to share with the community and help our local farmers during this trying time.”

The BWC community decided to promote the farm as well and offered to host an egg sale for the church parishioners at BWC’s home in Cherryville, which took place after the late morning church service. In total, the church purchased 210 dozen eggs from Zimmerman to resell to their congregation. The 2½ dozen egg flats were sold for $5 apiece with a two flat limit per customer.

Generous spirits shined bright as carloads of people would purchase their eggs, and then request to pay for the eggs for the people in the vehicle behind them. Thoughtful gestures abounded, as others refused the change from their purchase, paying with a 20 dollar bill in some cases, and offering the remainder as a donation.

After only 5 minutes, volunteers quickly decided to limit egg purchases from two flats to one flat per car because of the high turnout of people lined up in their vehicles.

After just 12 minutes, the 210 dozen eggs had sold out.

“Right now it is not confirmed, but BWC is likely going to be hosting another egg sale next weekend,” church parishioner and volunteer LeAnn Mucka hinted.

Peggy Ziegenfuss handles a flat of eggs. ANDREA SICORA/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS