A Food Pantry and the Academy: Supporting the Community
My Neighbor’s Bounty, a local food pantry in the borough of Mercersburg, celebrated its one-year anniversary on April 16, and over the past year, it has forged a strong relationship with Mercersburg Academy as well. The food pantry was founded by local residents Amanda Woodring and Tracy Leidy; Woodring says she “felt a calling to help others and wanted a place for people to come with no income requirements and no judgment to get any food they need.”
“It is an eye-opening experience to see the need in the community, and to fill a void that wasn't here is essential,” Leidy says. Indeed, outside of My Neighbor’s Bounty, the nearest food pantries to Mercersburg are located in McConnellsburg and Greencastle.
“Honestly, opening the pantry was the easiest thing I have ever done,” says Woodring. “Every non-profit business has its bumps, but we have been very fortunate to be able to remain open and give back to the community, even during COVID times.”
However, “keeping the pantry stocked is a consistent challenge,” says Leidy. “We want to ensure that everyone gets the food and items they need weekly. Each guest is allowed up to 20 items. We had to set a limit when we realized that our numbers were growing to be able to provide for everyone.” Leidy adds that the pantry goes through about 1,000 items a week.
“We started with about 15-20 families in April 2021, and we are currently serving around 50 families per week,” Woodring says. “We are partnered with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, from which we buy discounted food every two weeks to feed families in need. The Food Bank is very essential in making sure we are able to provide for the capacity our community needs.”
“It took a bit of time to partner with the Food Bank, but once established, it became easier,” Leidy says. “We purchase at least once a month from them. We try to make sure that we have meats, eggs, and other proteins.”
Just as important are the local businesses and community members partnering with My Neighbor’s Bounty. “We have been blessed by many local businesses that provide fresh produce during the growing season,” Leidy says. “We are also established with Food Lion and Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch. We encourage our local neighbors with a green thumb to ‘plant a row’ for My Neighbor’s Bounty and donate fresh fruits and veggies.”
Woodring said, “We have partnered with many local businesses, including Mercersburg Academy, the Tuscarora School District, and individuals to do events to raise monetary donations and also food drives to help us out with weekly essentials, freezers, and refrigerators.”
Director of Community Engagement Emily Parsons P ’21, ’22 (a Mercersburg native herself) heard about the pantry last spring when it first opened. She says, “Back in August, I reached out to Amanda Woodring and asked if I could meet with her. Originally, they needed help, and we needed something to do that was COVID-friendly.” Soon, however, it grew into far more.
“The Academy students stock for us each week, and developed a system for rotating our inventory,” Leidy says. “They are developing a website for us and an inventory system. They have been a blessing. Running the pantry takes a lot of hands, and we have a great group of volunteers in the community who all play a very different and important role.”
One example is Alex Cho ’23, who took on the organization and inventory system. He says, “We reorganized the stocking system so the input and output of the food is equal. The older food doesn't sit at the back rotting and instead goes in front and the newer supply goes at the back and so on.” This is especially important due to the increase in donations within the past few months.
“Now, the pantry is sorted into equal spaces by months. If the product expires in April, it goes in the April section or any of the preceding months. Since it’s easier to keep track of when the products expire, they can go out into the pantry area before that happens.” Cho adds, “The donations seem to increase all the time so I hope I have another chance to make some adjustments to the system so it can handle a lot of the donations.”
“In the future,” Woodring says, “I would love to keep expanding the pantry to keep serving all that need more food items, more personal care items, etc. I hope in the coming years to open another location.”
“We are always in need of volunteers and donations, so please contact us if you would like to be part of My Neighbor’s Bounty,” Leidy says. To connect with My Neighbor’s Bounty, call 717-493-6078 or find them on Facebook.