Recognizing an urgent need for food assistance, Delaware County Council passed a Hunger Awareness and Prevention resolution and recognized various public and private agencies convening a countywide Conference on Hunger next week at Widener University.

The New Face of Hunger conference theme recognizes that people of all ages face hunger issues and comes on the heels of various food drives conducted by organizations throughout the area.

Last Sunday, The Sons of Ben delivered proceeds from its recent food drive to officials at the Bernardine Center in Chester.

The official fan group of the Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer team held its Help Kick Hunger 2014 charity event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center during the recent MLS SuperDraft weekend.

The center provides emergency and supplemental food assistance, free brunch meals and advocacy education programs.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Delaware County partnered with nine local senior centers in the weeks preceding the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and collected more than 350 pounds of food that was also donated to the Bernardine Center’s Food Cupboard and distributed to needy families in Chester.

Last week, County Council called for awareness of hunger and support for anti-hunger organizations such as the Delco Interfaith Food Assistance Network (DIFAN), a family and community service agency with 12-member food centers.

“Hunger and food insecurity are unfortunate realities for some residents and we want to do everything we can to prevent any individual or family from wondering where their next meal is coming from,” said Council Chairman Thomas J. McGarrigle.

Several county agencies are partnering with community groups to hold the sixth annual Delaware County Conference on Hunger from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. Friday, March 7th, at Widener University. Delaware County Senior Medical Advisor Dr. George Avetian and Denise Stewart, director of the County Office of Services for the Aging (COSA) are presenters at the conference.

Conference organizer Fran Alloway, the nutrition and food safety educator for the Penn State Cooperative Extension, said the conference seeks to “make people aware of food resources in the community and to give people the skills to advocate for these resources.”

“We still see a need to address hunger in Delaware County. With food stamp cuts and continued high unemployment, families are struggling to provide food to stretch their meals through the month,” Alloway said. “We want to give people a better understanding of the issues and the resources that can help.”

Alan Edelstein, executive director of Family and Community Service of Delaware County, said the County State Food Purchase Program provided meals to 7,456 households in the year ending last June 30th and in that same time period, the 12 DIFAN centers provided needy recipients with 1.35 million meals.

Keynote speaker for the conference is Dalton Paxton, regional health administrator for the federal assistant secretary of health. He will discuss the Federal Childhood Obesity and Chronic Disease Initiatives.

Conference topics include finding hunger resources, eating healthy on a budget, understanding the SNAP program, new food stores in Delaware County, health literacy and growing your own food.

There will also be programs on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the EBT (electronic benefit card.)

Alloway said the conference is open to the public; there is a special student registration and professional credits will be given to social workers, dieticians and nurses.

For more information, call (610) 690-2655 or visit http://delaware.extension.psu.edu.

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