BY JILL WHALEN
An area nonprofit group focused on feeding the community while keeping small restaurants in business will hold free meal distributions in Hazleton.
Fork Over Love will be at the Hazleton Integration Project, 225 E. Fourth St., from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. March 16, and at Holy Rosary Church, 240 Poplar St., from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. April 7.
“Fork Over Love was started in January of this year in the upper Luzerne County area. It was the idea of Tracey Selingo, who got a group of local community women who are all community advocates together to get it off the ground,” explained Ruth Corcoran, a member of Fork Over Love’s board of directors.
Corcoran said the organization will act as a bridge bridge between independent restaurants and the growing number of neighbors in need.
It raises funds to purchase takeout dinners for the needy from restaurants impacted by the pandemic. Qualifying restaurants receive $10 for each dinner and the meals are delivered and distributed by volunteers at the sites.
Selingo, of Shavertown, noted that food insecurity is at all-time highs due to the economic impact of the pandemic on area businesses and the workforce. Many families may not be getting assistance or may be hesitant to ask for help, she said.
Fork Over Love wants to reach out to neighborhoods to ensure no one goes hungry.
“Food security has taken on new meaning for everyone – from restaurant owners and staff, to the newly unemployed, to stressed out parents, and anxious frontline workers,” she said. “The comfort of a hot meal is more important than ever.”
The group held its first distribution Feb. 3 in West Pittston. It has since tallied five more distributions in Luzerne County communities to provide 2,325 meals and inject $23,250 into the restaurant community.
“We’ve been moving around Luzerne County to hit various neighborhoods and wanted to be sure to include Hazelton, because we felt the need was great there as well, to support local restaurants, as well as the community,” Corcoran said.
Restaurants participating in the Hazleton food distributions include The Pines, Ovalon, Frankie’s, Manuel Empanadas, La Cueva, Antojitos Dominicanos, Rostas and Adames Bakery.
“We distribute 400 meals at each location,” Corcoran said. “We raise money to purchase the meals. Fork Over Love is entirely volunteer based.”
To reserve a meal, visit forkoverlove.org or call 570-331-8362. Those picking up meals are asked to remain in their vehicles and wear masks.
Fork Over Love is also seeking restaurants to partner with, organizations to host distributions, volunteers and monetary donations. Applications for restaurants, distribution sites, volunteers, and donations can all be found on at forkoverlove.org.
When fully operational, distribution points will rotate throughout different neighborhoods as restaurants and sites are added.
“Employing the restaurants to feed all of the people, regardless of their ability to pay it forward or not, will fill so much more than just bellies, it will fill the soul of our tight-knit community and hopefully become a new way for us to care for each other and fulfill every person’s basic human right to accessing food with dignity and love,” Selingo said.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-501-3592.