Why We Give
Eric C. Cooper & Naomi Weisberg Siegel pledge to fight hunger with a $1.5 million endowment to the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry (SHCFP). Staunch volunteers and financial supporters since 2003, the Cooper-Siegel family contributes the lead gift to the SHCFP Endowment Campaign initiated to support its Nov. 1, 2010 move and expansion.
“Eric and I are pleased with the progress the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry already has made to fight hunger in this community, but that battle is not over,” says Siegel.
She continues, “We are impressed by the productivity and efficiency of Pantry operations. Just as important is the respectful, empathetic way the Pantry helps everyone it serves.”
Since its inception, the SHCFP has provided a safety net to the hungry in the 15217 zip code area, without regard to race, gender, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, disability or age. The SHCFP provides emergency and supplemental food, direct social service and resource coordination, with the goal of ensuring food security and helping individuals achieve as much self-sufficiency as possible.
Over the last five years the SHCFP saw an 85 percent increase in clients served, with a distressing 30 percent growth just last year alone. On Nov. 1, 2010 the SHCFP moved to 828 Hazelwood Ave. The larger, more efficient space increases the amount of nutritious, nonperishable foods and fresh produce the SHCFP can acquire, stock and distribute, which help the organization continue to meet a growing need.
With its move, the SHCFP also became a client choice pantry. Instead of receiving pre-packed bags, clients now have the opportunity to make their own food choice selections just as they would in a grocery store.
“People are surprised when they hear there’s even a need for a food pantry in Squirrel Hill, but the fact is we already help more than 1,000 people who qualify for food assistance,” says Aryeh Sherman, president & CEO of Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS), which administers the SHCFP. “The Cooper-Siegel family’s heartwarming, generous gift greatly impacts our ability to meet a growing need with continued support and compassion for everyone served.”
He adds, “Many new clients are working families with children that are asking for help for the first time. Thanks to the leadership of donors like Eric and Naomi, the new faces of hunger in our community will have a place to turn for many years to come.”
In Squirrel Hill alone, there are more than 2,000 people living in poverty, including working families, senior citizens, people with disabilities and the unemployed. In 2010, the SHCFP served 1,083 individuals in 521 households. With its expansion, the organization hopes to reach those eligible for food assistance in 15217 who are not already seeking services.