‘We share food’: Wilkinsburg Community Ministry works to address hunger, food insecurity through pantry

Herk Reed adds a loaf of bread to other food and household items in his bags at Wilkinsburg Community Ministry food pantry on April 5, in his neighborhood of Wilkinsburg. Reed is part of some 40 to 60 clients that the food pantry sees per weekday. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

by Betul Tuncer, PublicSource

On an April weekday, a line stretched down the block as individuals and families patiently waited to visit the pantry with reusable bags in hand. According to Executive Director Ruth Kittner, that’s the norm: The pantry provides food to about 60 families every day and averages about 40,000 pounds of free food every month.

There was a time when Ruth Kittner only had $600 for the entire winter — an amount that was very little money even in 1978. With that money, she was able to pay her rent in Denver, utilities and phone but needed some extra support to pay for groceries, so she applied for food stamps. 

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“I could buy 6 ounces of beef, a bunch of rice and potatoes, a bunch of beans. And that 6 ounces of beef would last me 10 days,” said Kittner. “And I got criticism at the checkout because I bought beef on my food stamps.”

Ruth Kittner, executive director at Wilkinsburg Community Ministry, shows the space where she’s starting on a garden behind the organization’s food pantry on Wednesday, April 5, in Wilkinsburg. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

Kittner is now the executive director of the Wilkinsburg Community Ministry [WCM], which operates as a food pantry aiming to provide people with access to fresh and healthy foods. 

Located at 704 Wood St., the pantry is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and allows community members to visit twice a week to shop for groceries.  The pantry aims to provide fresh, healthy foods and help alleviate the problem of hunger and food insecurity that many people face. 

“Our motto is, we share food.
So basically, if somebody’s hungry, we share food,” said Kittner.

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