Classes for low-income parents, grandparents aim to reduce ‘food gap’

Thousands of York County families live in the food gap.

RED LION, Pa. (WHTM) – Many low-income families don’t qualify for assistance or just qualify for a little bit, but a collaboration among organizations in York County aims to change that.

The York County Food Alliance includes numerous groups including Penn State Extension, WellSpan Health, and Lifepath Christian Ministries.

They hold Lifepath to Healthy Eating classes once a week for seven weeks for parents or grandparents with children under 19 in what’s known as the “food gap.” This includes families 185 percent or more over the poverty line who rely on charitable programs.

You can apply for the classes with your school district or WIC.

“It’s a lack of money, a lack of time,” said Timi Bond, who lives in Red Lion.

Those are reasons why it’s hard for Bond to feed her three grandchildren she’s raising.

“The money that you have to buy healthy food, it’s more expensive than the junk food,” Bond said. “You want to feed your grandkids, kids healthy, but you can’t.”

Bond is one of the people learning how to buy and make healthy food at the Lifepath to Healthy Eating Class.

“You can buy produce when it’s cheap. You can buy the ‘uglies,’ the ones that haven’t made it to the front shelf that don’t look so great. You can cut them, freeze them, can them,” said Teresa Rufo, food service director at Lifepath Christian Ministries.

“What is half of the plate? Fruits and vegetables, so adding more fruits and vegetables is something most of us could do,” said Terri Rentzel, nutrition educator advisor with Penn State Nutrition Links as she held up a plate showing portions.

Participants learn to buy in bulk, prepare food ahead of time, and work healthy food into recipes, such as putting black beans and applesauce into brownies.

Bond says the classes are helping to keep her family healthy.

“I think that we would be eating more boxed stuff like macaroni and cheese and fast food like McDonalds,” Bond said.

The classes are held twice a year. They’re going on now in Red Lion, and the group is looking to have the next ones in southern York County.

York County’s poverty level is 10.9 percent. It has an 11.7 percent food insecurity rate, meaning families may not know where their next meal is coming from. Forty to 42 percent of people who are food insecure in York County fall in the food gap.

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