Heavy Lifting For Hunger

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35 million Americans live in poverty and don’t have enough to eat.  More than a third of those are children.  Because of lay-offs and downsizing, many people who never expected to need help are turning to food banks, which are struggling to meet demands.  As Kim Riemland reports, United Methodists holding their General Conference in Pittsburgh decided to not just talk about hunger, but roll up their sleeves and do something about it. 

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Mornings at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank bring a steady flow of volunteers pulling in for pick-ups.

Pat Johnson / YMCA: “We pick up and distribute on the same day, we usually service about 50 people.”

Pat Johnson and crew are here from the YMCA.

Pat Johnson: “We do a food pantry and an on-site program.”

Baker Bernhart’s group gets a ton of food every two weeks.

Baker Bernhart / Crossroads Presbyterian Church: “We’re doing this for the Crossroads Presbyterian Church food pantry in Monroeville.”

This food bank serves some 350 agencies in the Pittsburgh area. The need keeps rising, while donations continue to drop.

Anne Hawkins / Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank: “We’ve faced a lot of challenges, not only our food bank, but food banks across the country.”

On this day, help arrives. 21 tons of it, thanks to United Methodists meeting in Pittsburgh.  A truckload of potatoes, not considered “sellable” in stores, will help feed 120 thousand through the food bank. The Society of St. Andrew and the General Commission on United Methodist Men arranged to have them shipped here instead of being thrown away.

Bishop Donald Ott / Wisconsin: “Who's taking these?”

Bishop Donald Ott stepped outside his meetings to do some heavy lifting on an issue that’s close to his heart.

Bishop Donald Ott: “What we’re trying to help the bishops do - and the whole church -  is to put on a new set of glasses. Glasses that when you put them on enable you to see the poor and the marginalized and the children who always seem to get the short stick.”

You don’t have to look far to see the need.

George McIntosh showed up and wondered if he could get some food. The people here want to make sure people like George don’t pass on by unnoticed, or empty-handed.


Other United Methodists participating in the General Conference in Pittsburgh were asked to fast for one meal and donate money to help cover the shipping cost of the potatoes.  In every city where a General Conference is held, United Methodists schedule a way to serve the people of the host city.