Winter 2022 Update

Harrisburg Area Food Pantry | Harrisburg, PA

Winter 2022

Greetings Volunteers, Supporters, and Friends!  Hoping you are healthy and managing through a Central PA winter season. Spring is getting closer.

Our Mission Statement

“The Ecumenical Food Pantry supports those in the greater Harrisburg area who are experiencing food insecurity, primarily through the provision of emergency food assistance”


The EFP’s Executive Director, Deidre Lenker, created a proposal to reorganize portions of the EFP’s operations. Various phases of change were presented.  The EFP Board and MLC Council (Messiah Lutheran Church) approved moving forward with Phase 1 of the proposal. As a result, on November 29, 2021 we reorganized the EFP operation.  With the help of several board members, volunteers, and MLC staff, we relocated the upstairs aspects of the EFP operations to a portion of the area within MLC known as the gathering room.  Cabinets, desks, refrigerators, freezers, tables, frozen and refrigerated food items, and packed bags of food were all moved after the morning pantry shift.  We opened the next day within a warm and bright operating space.   This environment is more welcoming for clients in and more energy efficient.  All clients, volunteers, and guests are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing.  The EFP continues to operate under the State of PA Food Emergency Guidelines, which are currently scheduled to expire March 31, 2022.


The EFP is studying the possibility of adding one 40 cubic ft. refrigerator and one 40 cubic ft. freezer. These additions would expand our ability to safely store produce, dairy, eggs, and meats.  We are looking forward to acquiring the units through collaboration with MLC as to structural and electrical needs.

Produce and Proteins

The EFP is committed to have a steady supply of healthy produce and meat choices.  Our clients have emphasized their desire for choice in these areas. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are stretched very thin because of the higher cost of healthy food options. We thank our partners including the Central PA Food Bank, Spiral Path Farms, and Paulus Orchards for being valuable sources to fill this important need.  

Client Trends

We continue to see a steady increase of clients needing the services of the EFP.  We are currently serving approximately 1000 people per month, with almost half age 17 or under. The week of January 24, 2022was the busiest week in many months as we served 374 people.  We continue to see a high percentage of new clients who are seeking assistance for the first time. Due to many factors, we expect to see our client numbers grow over the next several months.


With leadership from Deidre Lenker, our Executive Director, we continue to partner with area health care organizations to facilitate our clients access to additional, non-food resources.  Contact to Care (Community initiative funded by United Way  and housed in Hamilton Health) and Pennie have visited the EFP to share health insurance marketplace options and services with clients.  Both organizations also donated personal items and hats, gloves, and earmuffs.  

We are also in discussion with Vista Autism to identify opportunities for young adults to learn skills volunteering at the pantry that could help them transition to future employment opportunities. 


The EFP was a gracious recipient of a fundraising effort by Knead Pizza.  Knead Pizza is a Midtown neighbor and we thank them for the support.  Proceeds are going toward fresh produce for distribution to clients. 


The plans for the EFP’s Second Annual Harvest Golf Tournament are underway.  The tournament will be held at Dauphin Highlands on May 16, 2022.  The event sold out last year and we are expecting continued community support to make this another successful event.  See our website, for further details and opportunities to register to play, sponsor, or donate.   

The EFP was created in response to Tropical Storm Agnes, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  Can you imagine the number of meals, clients, and volunteer hours the EFP has seen over the past 5 decades?    Stay tuned for further announcements and plans from the EFP’s 50th Anniversary committee led by Deidre Lenker. 

Strategic Planning

We continue to make progress with the EFP’s  2022-2025 strategic planning. Although the strategic plan looks ahead through 2024/25 fiscal year, it will evolve with the changing needs of those in our service areas and with the resources available to the EFP.  We will engage in ongoing review of our programs, operations and role in the community.  

New Board Member

We welcomed Lesla Sheeder to the EFP Board in January.  Lesla will provide additional leadership to an already active and strong board.  Lesla is a realtor with KW Realty and also a member of Messiah Lutheran Church Council.  Welcome Lesla!

EFP Needs

The EFP continues to move away from single use plastic bags for food items.  We have been using new green biodegradable bags.  The green bags are safer for food handling and better for the environment.  We always appreciate new biodegradable bag donations.  We also gladly accept handled cloth bags that walking clients can use to transport items home.  As many of you know, we strive to provide personal items such as soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant for clients.  These items are often taken for granted but families experiencing food insecurity may not have the resources to acquire them.  These items are most welcome via organizational personal drives or directly from gracious individuals.

Thank You

The EFP could not have become such a fixture in the area’s battle against hunger without its dedicated volunteers, donors, community partners and board members.  Our ability to boldly address the needs of clients now and in the future likewise depends on the valued support of these critical resources.  From all of us at the EFP, we humbly say Thank You!

Follow us, like us, check us out!

The EFP is on Facebook: Ecumenical Food Pantry Harrisburg-@ecumenicalfoodpantryharrisburg

Instagram: Ecumenical Food Pantry (Hbg)-e_food_pantry


With much gratitude and best wishes,

Phil Mackey 

EFP Board Chair