A new distribution hub supported by several organizations has opened in Bristol Borough.
The new 8,000-square-foot space will be part of a healthy eating and living partnership named the HELP Center that is supported by the St. Mary Medical Center, Bucks County Opportunity Council, United Way of Bucks County, and Penn Community Bank. The center will serve the entire county.
The new facility, which will not be open to the public, will act as a hub to store food and other necessities that can be relocated to food pantries, Fresh Connect free mobile farm markets, and existing distribution points.
“St. Mary brought these organizations together to improve the coordination of hunger relief in Bucks County,” said Dr. Larry Brilliant, the president of St. Mary Medial Center. “The HELP Center will be a hub for addressing food insecurity in Bucks County, fulfilling the mission to serve our community members most in need.” St. Mary will use the center for distributing food resources for their weekend meal program.
The Bucks County Opportunity Council will use the new HELP Center as a center to store and distribute dry goods.
Erin Lukoss, the CEO of the Bucks County Opportunity Council, said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a jump in the number of families that need help with obtaining food. The new center will help the nonprofit increase the group’s capacity.
“Last year, BCOC coordinated distribution of over 1.9 million pounds of food to over 60 sites. With the new HELP Center, we can increase our food storage volume and get more food onto the tables of families who need it,” Lukoss said.
The United Way of Bucks County plans to move its in-kind goods distribution to the new site. The nonprofit receives home goods through partners to distribute to those in need.
“There is an increased and urgent need for the basics,” said United Way of Bucks County CEO Marissa Christie. “Our new HELP Center means we can get larger donations from corporate partners and get items out to the community faster.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Way of Bucks County is focusing on items that are urgently needed like donated toilet paper, diapers, and cleaning products.
Financial support for the HELP Center is being provided by Penn Community Bank.
“Penn Community Bank is committed to serving as a catalyst for growth. We live out our mission by serving as a trusted and essential partner that meets people where they are – the HELP Center is an extension of that mission,” said bank CEO Jeane Vidoni.
Editor’s Note: Publisher Tom Sofield is a member of the United Way of Bucks County Board of Directors.