FirstEnergy Employees Kick Off 2024 Harvest for Hunger Campaign by Volunteering at Westmoreland Food Bank

Harvest for Hunger 2024

Scott Wyman, President of FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania Operations, dubbed his gang of West Penn Power volunteers “Team Frozen Hands” as they packed frozen sausages, bacon and beef patties into cardboard boxes destined for 1,700 households of active-duty military personnel and veterans living in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Laurie Peddicord, Manager of Legal Operations, stacked frozen wagyu beef steaks and hot dogs into food boxes for military families. Further down the assembly line, her co-workers scurried to fill boxes with fresh fruits and vegetables such as cabbage, berries, bananas and even dragon fruit, an oddity resembling a pink artichoke.    

The efforts of West Penn Power’s 32 company volunteers to load boxes with meat, produce and non-perishable food items for the Westmoreland Food Bank’s Military Share program will result in more than meals.

“We value our partnership with FirstEnergy, and it’s great to see all of you coming into our facility to volunteer,” said Jennifer Miller, Westmoreland Food Bank CEO. “We have a lot of working poor coming to us now. People who were promised high wages during the pandemic and have since seen their paychecks trimmed.”

FirstEnergy’s Harvest for Hunger Feeds Families

The food bank warehouse, located 15 minutes from West Penn Power’s Greensburg headquarters, provided the perfect venue to kick off FirstEnergy’s annual Harvest for Hunger campaign, a corporate initiative to eradicate food insecurity that has raised enough funds since 2001 to produce 48 million meals.

FirstEnergy’s companywide goal for its 2024 campaign is to raise $240,000, the equivalent of 1.5 million meals. The FirstEnergy Foundation matches employee donations ranging from $25 to $5,000 to help feed families in communities served by its electric companies.

Jeff Abramowitz, the food bank’s Director of Employee and Volunteer Engagement, stressed the essential role volunteers from FirstEnergy and elsewhere play to bolster the food bank’s modest staff of 28. Nearly 5,000 volunteers logging a combined 67,000 hours equals 41 full-time employees.

“This is one of those organizations that makes it easy for FirstEnergy employees to volunteer,” Wyman said. “There’s plenty of work to do under one roof. When our people walk out of here today, they are going to feel good about themselves.”

Another feel-good note: nothing goes to waste at the food bank. Dented cans, busted bags and boxes, overripe fruit and packaging without labels listing ingredients – all formerly disposed of as garbage – is repurposed. A local farmer hauls away the discarded scraps to fatten his pigs.    

Brightening Lives, One Meal at a Time

“Today, you are going to be saving lives,” said Abramowitz. “This is not hyperbole. People who are food insecure are 2.9 times more likely to consider suicide.”  

He added that with military veterans, particularly those who struggle with mental illness, that figure stands considerably higher. Abramowitz also noted food insecurity sometimes leads to spousal and child abuse. 

“It cuts across the spectrum. By providing food to those in need, you address hundreds of issues,” he said.

A volunteer-powered, non-profit organization, the Westmoreland Food Bank distributes six million pounds of food per year, serving 8,000 families each month in the sprawling county just east of Pittsburgh roughly the size of Delaware.

Last Modified: April 23, 2024