PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The North Braddock Food Bank, which operates out of the Word and Worship Church, is now fending for themselves.
After a long relationship with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, they cut ties because of new specific wording in a contract with the organization, which prohibits religious practices. By ending the partnership, the North Braddock Food Bank lost thousands of dollars in grant money.
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank said the USDA has required specific language for a number of years on religious practices. The new language in the contracts came after complaints from other pantries in the Pittsburgh area, leading the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to tighten up their contract wording.
In a statement released by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Chief Operating Officer Laura Randolph said the following:
“Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank serves more than 120,000 people in 11 southwestern Pennsylvania counties each month, including people of many faiths and backgrounds. As recipients of federal funds, we are required to prohibit connecting any particular faith with receiving food assistance, or risk the loss of funds for the food that we distribute. More importantly, we are dedicated to ensuring that all people who are at risk of hunger are able to seek assistance in a comfortable atmosphere that respects diversity.”
Alan Lohr with Word and Worship Church said while recipients were never forced into any religious practices, the church found it difficult to comply with the new contract wording.
“Praying, talking to people about Jesus or inviting them to church, and the language that they said, we couldn’t even do that within earshot of people,” Lohr said.
The pantry volunteers and church are now looking for outside sources for donations. They are working with an organization, “His Food Ministries,” but it comes at a cost.
Families will now have to pay $30 for a box of food during the monthly distributions.