As the Executive Director of the State College Food Bank, Carol Pioli knows how to make a big impact. Carol is in charge of overseeing the entire organization, “whether it is operations, financial, outreach, community engagement — the list goes on,” Carol says. “I almost forgot the most important one – client services!”
The State College Food Bank, like many of our partner agencies, is a busy operation. They serve 1,600 clients a year, equating to more than 300 families per month. However, something that makes this partner stand out is their food re-donation program. Carol realizes that many other food pantries, in the area do not have access to proper resources for their clients due to lack of manpower or transportation issues. In an effort to help, the State College Food Bank staff and volunteers partner with these local agencies to bring them food from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank-related retailers, as well as donating food they themselves cannot use. Carol raves about how this food re-donation program has grown in recent years.
“This is a wonderful partnership that started with two agencies, and has now expanded to include many agencies,” Carol said. “This first year we did this with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, we donated about 22,000 pounds of food to other agencies in Centre County. The second year, it went to 62,000 pounds and last year, it was 77,000. So this is an example of how we really work together to reach everyone struggling with hunger, not only within our distribution area, but throughout Centre County.
Carol is particularly excited about the variety of fresh produce the State College Food Bank can provide their partners’ clients as well as their own. “Because of Feeding America and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank we always have wonderful produce to share with our clients and partners,” she explains. “You never know what you are going to find at the State College Food Bank in the summer — it could be anything from acorn squash, to a trumpet squash to kohlrabi! You just never know, which is really neat. Our clients like the fresh fruits and vegetables as so do we.” Carol simply describes her service as “sharing our bounty.”
Our partnership with the State College Food Bank and other partners is proving that when we work together, those struggling with hunger have better access to better foods.
We truly are, Better Together.
This article originally appeared in our newsletter, Food For Thought