HCLV Executive Director Victoria Montero, who also works for St. Luke’s in Community Health, volunteers in the food pantry.
At Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley’s food pantry in south Bethlehem, the food is meticulously organized on shelves like a grocery store, with color-coded charts in each section, educating their visitors about making healthy decisions . The patrons may select from a variety of available items according to their preferences, including fruits and fresh vegetables, dry and canned goods, meats, as well as household and personal hygiene supplies.
HCLV had the forethought to stock an aisle with culturally-appropriate foods – purchased through fundraising efforts coordinated by St. Luke’s – so the visitors have the ability to create meals they are familiar with.
St. Luke’s has also been providing a steady stream of volunteers who have been able to help restock, clean, and organize the shelves. Dr. Kara Mascitti, an infectious disease expert who also serves as St. Luke’s Chief Wellness Officer, organizes an annual Physician’s Family Day when doctors bring their families to volunteer. They have completed many projects, including painting the pantry, packaging the food and organizing the shelves. Other St Luke’s volunteers have helped with restocking, cleaning and managing inventory, to help keep the Pantry running in its seamless fashion.
The pantry is open five days a week to provide appointment-based services for residents from Northampton County. Once eligibility has been established based on residency and income, people are able to schedule a 30-minute window to “shop."
Volunteers and staff are available to help visitors choose and package their selections, but also encourage the patrons who use the pantry three or more times to consider HCLV’s case management services that may better serve their needs.
In addition to providing a strong volunteer base, St Luke’s led the multi-million-dollar effort to renovate the facility. The Network also provided new furnishings.
St. Luke’s Community Health Department supported the Hispanic Center through staff shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic by lending crucial staff members to ensure that HCLV programs could remain open and operating throughout those challenging times.
Hector Rios, a new recipient of HCLV services, said, “As the prices of food go up, it gets harder and harder for us. We are very appreciative of the services here. We need this place, and they treat us with dignity and respect.”
As prices continue to rise, so do the number of recipients of HCLV services. Lifting a community up requires strong, committed stakeholders. If you want to support the food pantry, volunteer or donate, please contact the center at (610)868-7800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.