Wayne kicks off emergency food relief program

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WAYNE COUNTY, PA It did not take long for the Wayne County Commissioners to see that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to cause serious financial strain for many residents.

Commissioner Joe Adams said that the severity of the crisis's economic impact was made clear to him when Wayne Stephens of Stephens Pharmacy told him that longtime customers have been opening up accounts "left and right" because they could no longer to afford to pay their bills in cash, the way they always have.

"That was a week and a half, or two-weeks ago," Adams said.  "If [the pandemic] goes another three, four, ten weeks... people aren't going to have enough money to eat."

In an effort to address this issue,  the county's part-private, part-public planning initiative known as Wayne Tomorrow became "Wayne Today," Adams said, and partnered with the Wayne County Community Foundation to create a food relief program for people who need help getting groceries right now.

The program kicked off on Friday, April 17, distributing food at various locations from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The first Friday, volunteers at the Damascus School pickup location gave out 76 packages.

Adams said that residents can make tax deductable donations to the Wayne County Community Foundation to support the food program. As of Thursday, April 16, Adams said they had raised about $87,000 in donations.

The Fall Music Festival is also hosting a three-part virtual concert series which is live-streamed through its Facebook page on Saturday nights at 7 p.m. to raise money for the program.

Adams thanked the school districts, volunteers, human services administrator Michelle Valinski, food pantry coordinator Clarissa Wimmers and food service manager Amy Constantino for performing "a yeoman's job" in organizaing the effort.

Residents can register for the program by calling 570/253-4262 or visiting the county's website. Those who wish to donate to the program can do so at the community foundation's website.

Editor's note: Reporter Owen Walsh was also the first performer in the Fall Music Festival's three-part, virtual series.

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