The Caring Cupboard has its roots in the program ministry of the Palmyra Church of the Brethren (PCOB), when in 2001, children at the church felt that food should be available to transients. It blossomed into a program for not just transients but also members of the church who were in need.
In the late summer of 2004, it was felt that the program should be expanded to help those in the community and become a ministry of the then Palmyra Area Cooperating Churches, now Palmyra - A Caring Community (PACC). A pilot program to see if there was a need for a community food program and if that program would be sustained by the community was launched. The Outreach Team of the PCOB was empowered with the responsibility of organizing and running the food bank which immediately became a food pantry.
The Caring Cupboard grew in all aspects and soon outgrew the PCOB facility. In the fall of 2005 two important decisions were made. First, PACC organization decided to take over the operation of The Caring Cupboard and retain its name. Second, PACC went looking for and found a new location, the Royer Flower Shop Building, at 131 North Railroad Street, Palmyra, PA
By the late summer of 2006, the buying of the Royer Building was completed. The mortgage was provided by The Interfaith Manor, and renovations were begun by H.R. Weaver Construction.
On October 2, 2006, the Caring Cupboard officially opened at the Royer location. The immediate result of opening in the more visible location and the more neutral location was a doubling of all aspects of the operation, those we serve, volunteers, and supporters.
Today, The Caring Cupboard is thriving. We are actively serving an average of 140 families per week with more than 600 families who we have served in 2015 and 2016. The Caring Cupboard primarily serves the Palmyra and the Annville-Cleona School District areas. Our support system continues to grow as more businesses, churches, individuals, and organizations become involved.
In addition to the food we offer from our local contributors, which makes up the bulk of what The Caring Cupboard offers to families, we have partnered with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and their senior box program as well as making TEFAP distribution available. We are very involved in the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank programs with the latest being milk distribution.
Since purchasing the building, we have accomplished additional changes in the former Royer Building. These changes include renovating a sunken garden into an office, meeting, kitchen-prep room, and two handicapped accessible bathrooms, renovating a former lunch room into a storage area and office, the building of shelving units in the basement for overflow storage, renovating of an attached hot house area into an all-weather functioning storage area. All of these projects were done by volunteer church members and The Caring Cupboard volunteers. During 2013 we contracted to have the heating system converted to heat pumps, the electrical system upgraded, the garage roof redone, a renovation of one of the garage bays, and the upgrading of our computer system.
We are currently open at four different times during the week and our families can visit once a week, with the goal of providing food for three to four days. We try to offer fresh fruits, vegetables, turkey burger, chicken, milk, and eggs in addition to donated product and non-perishables.
With the help of our contributors we were able to provide 183 dinners over and beyond normal weekly needs for Thanksgiving, 164 for Christmas, and 170 for Easter. Additionally, we operate a Summer Lunch program for families with school children.
Lastly, The Caring Acre set on the Kaylor Farm has been an invaluable resource to our program; in the summer and fall of 2014, over 11,000 pounds of fresh produce was given to The Caring Cupboard!
The Caring Cupboard is managed by a volunteer director, a part-time assistant director, a part-time client manager, and additional operational personnel. It is overseen by a Board of Directors consisting of ministers, community members, and business representatives. Only the assistant director and client manager are paid employees which means hundreds of volunteers aid in the mission of the Caring Cupboard throughout the year.
Thank you for your continued support of The Caring Cupboard! We couldn't do this without all of our partners and volunteers!