The CFWMC began operations in the fall of 1983 in donated space in the basement of the Sharon Herald. In the first full year of operations, the Warehouse distributed over 350,000 pounds of food through 8 agencies. In 1984, we were able to purchase a van with a grant from the O'Brien Children's Foundation. In 1986, we moved into a building in Farrell, which was donated by First National Bank.
Opening the CFWMC, 1983. From left to right: Rev. Dr. Samuel Perry, Mrs. Patricia Campbell, Rev. Dr. Richard McCandless, Monsignor Michael Polanichka, Sentator and Mrs. Arlen Specter, Rev. Thomas Dugan, Executive Director Michael Wright.
As the 90’s approached the Warehouse undertook numerous projects to upgrade its operations.
Staff members were added, and the operation of the Warehouse became computerized with a grant from Apple Computers to keep up with the increasing number of families seeking emergency food assistance.
The new decade saw the installation of an overhead door to assist in loading and unloading trucks and the purchase of another electric forklift to assist in warehouse operations. The Warehouse also procured freezers for seven food pantries under a program sponsored by the state.
1992 saw the Warehouse become a partner with the KDKA Turkey Fund drive. This program benefited all member agencies with the CFWMC being the conduit for turkey certificates raised by KDKA during Thanksgiving. In 1997, The Herald initiated the annual Good News Turkey Fund, which brought in 1,100 turkeys just in time for the Christmas holiday!
The outside of the old Warehouse, located in Farrell, PA.
Celebrating five years of serving the community, 1988. Board members and members of the community tour the old warehouse in Farrell. Our Executive Director (then Administrative Assistant) Lori Weston is pictured on the far right!
The new century began with a smooth ride, but decreased grants and government commodities for the Warehouse soon became a challenge to overcome.
In December of 2005, Executive Director, Michael Wright (the first executive director) resigned to take another position and passed the directorship to Lori Weston, who had been with the CFW for 20 years. Mimi Prada came on board in January of 2006 as the new Agency/Public Relations Coordinator.
By 2007, we had distributed a cumulative total of over 19 million pounds of food, and our Board of Directors began an active search for a new building, after realizing we had outgrown the building which served as our home for so many years.
The Greenwood Group heard of our need to expand and generously donated a significant amount of money to kick off our capital campaign, as well as offered their building in Sharon! This was the beginning of many, many miracles that brought us where we are today. Our capital campaign exceeded our expectations and our building renovations were finished in time for us to move in on March 31, 2010!
On June 24, 2010 the CFWMC held a public dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony.
The front door of our new Warehouse, located in Sharon. 2010.
Former Board President and current Advisory Board member, Bill Boyle, and Lori Weston giving a plaque to Richard Stigliano, part of the Greenwood Group, as a thank you for our new building. 2010.
One of the beautiful works of art in our Community Room, painted by Betty DiGiorgio.
Mimi, Rich Morgan, and Lori at our First Annual Race to End Hunger. 2010
Mimi on our new walker/stacker. 2015.
2010 continued to be an exciting year for us. Our first Annual Race to End Hunger took place, with Rich Morgan of WKBN as our celebrity runner, our mascot “Myron the Hunger Awareness Ape” made his public debut, our Backpack Program moved on site, and our claim to fame --we are rated in the top 20 food banks across the country in spite of the fact that we are one of the smallest staffed food banks! Another crowning moment for us was the completion of the artistry of Betty DiGiorgio in our Community Room. Her works of art depict the essence of the community gardens and the beauty of healthy, nutritious foods.
In the last couple of years, the CFW has continued to expand in many ways. With the acquisition of a new refrigerated box truck the Warehouse has been the recipient of over 163,000 lbs. of donated food from our local stores– food that has been frozen to retain its quality. Our first year of gleaning from our four community gardens, Boaz Fields, sponsored by the local United Methodist Churches, resulted in over 18,000 lbs. of fresh produce. With the installation of a new cooler and freezer which increased respectively 3 times and 4 times the amount of space we had, we are able to accommodate the incoming bounty of produce and frozen products. Our warehouse space increased by 10,000 square feet of space and a donation of racking and shelving from Walmart gave us ample space to store more product than ever before, which allowed us the capacity to accept full truckloads of nationally donated product – cereal, juice, corn, beans, fresh potatoes and much more. This increased amount of food gave us the ability to assist the growing number of families/individuals seeking emergency food in Mercer County.
In the last five years, the number of households receiving food assistance has risen from 3,100 to over 4,200 households – over a 26% increase! Then in 2010 we reached 1.2 million lbs. bringing us to a cumulative total of over 23 million lbs. of food through five procurement avenues – nationally donated product thru Feeding America, government commodities, wholesale purchased, locally donated and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for Seniors.
In 2011, we began our successful Empty Bowls event, which is held on an every other year basis. In 2012, we received several grants that allowed us to bring the PA Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab to the Warehouse. The Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab was part of a week-long "Farm Day in Town Field Trip" for area first-graders. The aim of the field trip was to teach kids about healthy foods-both kids and adults loved it. As of 2015, this has become a yearly field trip.
In the past two years, we've been the recipient of over $163,000 in grant money from Wal-Mart- money which has enabled us to distribute more food (1.3 million pounds in 2014- a 26% increase over 2013), expand our staff, and purchase a new, much-needed, van!
Thanks to an additional grant from Wal-mart in 2015, we were able to purchase a second new van- this one with both freezer and refrigeration capabilities. This grant and a grant from PASS (Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System) enabled us to to begin a produce program, Harvest Helpings. Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, we, along with other PA food banks, have also launched a fresh milk program, called Fill A Glass with Hope. We've also expanded our Backpack Program into 3 more school districts. The Backpack Program is now in 8 school districts and 16 schools in Mercer County!
We know without a doubt that all we have done has only been possible with God’s blessing and the work and generous gifts of our many volunteers and donors.
The Community Food Warehouse belongs to you – the community – who has faithfully supported us with your prayers, your time, your funds, your love and encouragement. From our hearts, thank you from all of us here at the CFWMC. May God bless you as you have truly blessed us.
Sue Ference and Nick DiBucci of Wal Mart present Lori and Mimi with a check for $60,000. 2014.
The new van!