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Amy S., Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Amy S., Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

Life Changing Is ... Being There in Times of Need

Amy S., Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

"They've really been lifesavers in my life."

Amy found herself in great need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mother of two and grandmother of five was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2018. Two years later, during the pandemic, she was struggling to balance the costs of her medication and food. To make matters worse, food wasn't readily available in the stores.

“It was like, 'OK, do I pay for medication, or do I pay for food?'" Amy remembers. "There were a lot of times we were short. I wouldn't eat because I wanted (my daughter) to eat. She wouldn't eat because she wanted me to eat. It was rough at first."

Then Amy learned of a mass food distribution event arranged by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. She went to the event and received some greatly needed food.

"I was like, 'Wow,'" she says. "They didn't ask questions or anything. It was just the first time I've ever been able to do that. And it came when I really needed it. We had nothing, and the stores were empty."

Since that first experience, Amy has regularly gone to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in her times of need. She goes to a location near her home south of Pittsburgh to pick up food. More than just canned goods, she can get meat, produce, and other items for meals. Some of the bags even come with recipe cards.

“It turned from me having an emergency of not having food to them providing the healthy food that the cancer wanted me to eat," says Amy, whose cancer is now in remission. "They've really been lifesavers in my life.

“I've gained weight. Not a lot, but I picked up some weight, so I know it helps. We go longer without running out. I think it definitely benefits us. It's a godsend, it really is."

UPMC and UPMC Health Plan are proud partners of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. We support their mission of providing food and other resources throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. In addition to donations, UPMC Health Plan also works with the food bank to provide food to patients in need.

The food bank's website includes a "Find Food" tool to help people locate food resources close to their home. They offer various options to pick up food, from drive-thru to walk-in. Delivery is available in some areas, including for seniors in need.

The food bank also works to connect people to other community resources. When Amy was temporarily off of Social Security, the food bank helped to connect her to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Amy says she used to worry about being judged for using the food bank. Now, she encourages people in need to use the resources the food bank provides.

"I tell everybody now: 'Go to the food bank. They're there for us,'" Amy says. “It's awesome. They go over and beyond, they really do. I know for me, they helped me a lot. And it wasn't just food, it had to do with SNAP and things like that, things that I didn't know about. So, it's been great."

At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means helping people out in the community.

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