Emergency Food Relief Program

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the community compelled Wayne Tomorrow! to temporarily shift focus from cultivating a vibrant future to meeting the real needs of . . . today. 

As the crisis deepened and businesses closed, the effort to help provide groceries to the hundreds of households facing weeks without income got underway. The expertise of the Wayne County Food Pantry Program and all three local school districts combined with the dedication and compassion of community volunteers, gave rise to the Wayne County Emergency Food Relief Program. 

“What separates our effort from other food programs in the nation is that the Wayne Tomorrow! partners were able to help coordinate the addition of some local farm/food products into the effort,” said Commissioner Joe Adams. “Volunteers reached out to farmers to determine what, if anything this time of year, could be added to the food being distributed. Local milk and eggs supplemented the non-perishable foods, and fresh vegetables and recipes for how to prepare them.” 

Reaching out to wholesalers and hospitality suppliers and tapping into local retailers and farm producers, the EFRP fed nearly 2,000 families over a four week period from late April through May. . 

Dozens of volunteers donned gloves and masks to help with receiving deliveries, packing bags and providing contactless curbside service at the distribution points across the county from Damascus to Newfoundland. 

The Wayne County Community Foundation provided the financial backbone for this ambitious project, creating a special fund to support the Food Pantry Program as it expanded to meet the needs of the COVID-19 outbreak and contributed $10,000 of its grant budget to support the effort as well.

Established in mid-March, the Wayne County Emergency Food Relief Fund has received checks and online credit card donations totaling more than $160,000 and counting. Because of the foundation’s involvement in the fundraising, all the donations are tax deductible.

The fund also received donations from a virtual concert series arranged by the organizers of the Fall Music Festival at Dorflinger-Suydam Wildlife Sanctuary. The Wayne County Cares Concert Series used Facebook Live to bring live music from local musicians to the community, encouraging people to order dinner out from their favorite restaurant and join the virtual festival.

In June, the Wayne County Emergency Food Relief Program transitions to the County's Food Pantry Program, which offered twice monthly distributions through the summer months. 

In 2021, the Food Relief Program continued to purchase fresh milk, eggs and produce from local farms, and the program will likely grow in 2022 with the possible addition of grant funding for Second Harvest Food Bank to purchase a refrigerated truck to serve Wayne & Pike Counties along with a pledge to by as much food locally as possible.

Donations can be made online at www.WayneFoundation.org, or checks can be mailed to the Wayne County Community Foundation, 214 Ninth St., Honesdale PA 18431 with “Emergency Food” on the memo line. The funds are being used to purchase food for the County Pantry as well as pantry programs operated by the faith community throughout the area.