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Snack Pack Pals

It is a human instinct to serve, and the Snack Pack Pals program in Whitehall-Coplay School District is doing just that for students and families in need.

This newly renovated program has met some success, thanks to hardworking volunteers, great effort and teamwork.

Michelle Khouri, district registrar and community outreach, reported the program began 17 years ago with retired teacher Leah Saliby, who saw a need for food support for families, especially over long holiday breaks, such as Presidents Day weekend.

Food items such as ramen noodles, instant macaroni and cheese, cereal and soup were collected and prepared for distribution. During a 10-year period, the volunteer group served approximately 200 students per year.

The drop-off and pickup center was located in the Whitehall-Coplay Middle School building. Through the support of Hokendauqua Fire Company and many generous volunteers, this program served the needs of those hungry in the Whitehall-Coplay community for many years.

Then COVID-19 happened, and no one was allowed in the building. The program shut down.

Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative, through the direction of Shari Noctor, set out to rectify things. Food was stored in one church on the north side of Whitehall and one on the south side. Weekly distribution for families in need continued until August 2020.

Whitehall Food Pantry regrouped in the fall and started revamping this program with food to be collected and stored in the pantry at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 3900 Mechanicsville Road. A group of students from Whitehall High School Interact Club and adult volunteers meet every Monday to collect food items and to prepare bags for Snack Pack Pals for families in need.

The program is at Steckel Elementary School. There are plans to eventually implement the Snack Pack Pals program at all five schools in the district.

For this program to continue and grow, volunteers rely on timely delivery, enough donations, volunteers and support from the community. Thus far, this is working smoothly, according to Khouri.

Research was conducted to see where needs were and how many were truly in need. Currently, 28 families receive support through the program at Steckel Elementary.

If you have questions about the program or want to make a referral, Khouri encourages people to contact her at khourim@whitehallcoplay.org.

This program has the continued support of Hokendauqua Fire Company and supportive members of the community. The district is also offering breakfast and lunch free to all students daily. It’s part of the “no child goes hungry” philosophy.

Since COVID-19, many families are struggling. This is the district’s way of giving back.

Should anybody have any questions about volunteering or other ways to support WCHI, contact Doreen at 484-246-5715.

PRESS PHOTOS BY MICHAEL AGRIPPINE Cindi Held, Betty Duffy and Lana Snyder sort through healthy food options for the Snack Pack Pals program in Whitehall-Coplay School District.
Sheila Lanshe helps keep everything organized at the pantry, located at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Whitehall.
PRESS PHOTO BY MICHAEL AGRIPPINE The Whitehall-Coplay School District Snack Pack Pals program helps ensure students have enough food during long weekends.