Recognizing the urgent need for food assistance, Delaware County will be teaming up with local food agencies throughout the region to host a hunger conference. Delaware County is part of the First Congressional District where hunger issues rank second in the United States.
The conference will be held on March 9, at Widener University in Chester from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Established in 2008 by Delaware County Council, the goal of the conference is to make residents in the community aware of food resources in the community and to give people the skills to advocate for these resources.
“Hunger and food insecurity is an unfortunate reality for some of our 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 Dave White, councilman and Council’s liaison to the County Department of Human Services.
One of the organizations participating in the conference is the Office of Behavioral Health and the Department and the Delco Interfaith Food Assistance Network (DIFAN), a Family and Community Service agency that has 12 member food centers. In the 2010-2011 year, DIFAN centers distributed 1.3 million meals.
This year’s conference topics include finding hunger resources, eating healthy with limited resources, advocacy, starting a food cupboard and urban gardening projects. Exhibits will be set up by Cityteam Ministries, the Coalition Against Hunger, Community Action Agency of Delaware County, Philabundance, and WIC.
“It is really disturbing to see the increase in need for food,” said Fran Alloway, conference organizer. “At Delaware County food banks, there has been a 30 percent increase in demand over last year. What we are continuing to do with this conference each year is to give local residents as much information as well as options on food assistance in Delaware County.
“We just want to be a tool in helping families across Delaware County and help assist them in any way that we can. This conference is a great step for us to get information out to public about food and how these organizations are here to assist them in any way that they need.”
Key speakers for the conference include Marina Barnett, DSW of Widener University, Dr. George K. Avetian, DO, Senior Medical Advisor of Delaware County, Ellen Teller, Esq. of the Food Research and Action Center, Sharon Ward of the PA Budget and Policy Center and Julie Zaebst, MSS, MLSP of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
The conference is open to the public, but there is a special student registration and professional credits will be given to social workers, dieticians and nurses. For more information on the hunger conference call (610) 690-2655 or visit delaware.extension.psu.edu.