Harrisburg shelter turns down food, asks for extra donations

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The warehouse for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is filled with food.

The food bank is a major supplier to shelters in the Midstate.

However, the Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg will not be on the list of those taking the food anytime soon.

“We can no longer take the food on principal because prayer is an integral part of everything we do at Bethesda Mission,” said Scott Dunwoody, vice president of business development at the shelter.

Earlier this year, federal regulations established that any organization getting food from the federal government could not require people being given the food to attend or participate in religious activities.

Dunwoody said that, as a result, they are turning down the approximately 12,000 pounds of free food they would get from the USDA.

“It is a very small amount throughout the year,” Dunwoody said. “That 10,000 pounds of USDA food does help us for several months to supplement and adds to the kinds of meals that are being prepared.”

In order to make up for some of the lost food, the Bethesda Mission is counting on their food drive to help.

Dunwoody said donors have promised extra help.

Jennifer Powell, director of development at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, said they have other food the mission could take.

“We distribute the 6-million pounds of USDA food,” Powell said. “There is another 42- to 44-million pounds that we get from other folks and other places.”

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