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History of the Food Bank

The Food Bank recently marked its 30th Anniversary. When Pittsburgh's great steel mills began closing in the 1980's the Food Bank came into existence as a way to help out the thousands of families suddenly without resources and at risk of hunger. Today, the Food Bank serves populations urban and rural, working, retired, of all ages and economic backgrounds. Below are some highlights from the Food Bank's journey that began in June of 1980.

A Brief Chronology of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

June, 2011: The Food Bank celebrates its 30th Anniversary.

February, 2007: On a monitoring visit to the Food Bank, Matt Coatar of Feeding America calls GPCFB "the conscience of the network."

Fall, 2006: The Food Bank receives two "Hunger's Hope" Awards from Feeding America for its new Choosing Healthy Options Program, and its advocacy work.

June, 2006: The Food Bank celebrates its 25th Anniversary on National Hunger Awareness Day at a dinner at the Hilton.

January, 2006: The Campaign to End Hunger was launched with a year-long media campaign to raise awareness about hunger and encourage advocacy at all levels.

October, 2005: The Food Bank initiates Produce to People, a Saturday direct distribution program to low-income communities. More than 35,000 pounds of food are distributed on the first Saturday.

2005: The Food Bank receives the Congressional Hunger Center's Victory Against Hunger Award.

June, 2005: The Food Bank initiates the National Hunger Awareness Day Awards honoring outstanding community partners of the Food Bank for their continuing support.

2005: The Food Bank hires a Regional Agency Relations Administrator to increase service to the northern counties of the Food Bank's service area. The goal of pounds distributed in the first year is surpassed by 67%.

2004-2005: The Food Bank's staff and Board of Directors create a Strategic Plan, defining goals and strategies for achieving them for the next three years.

December, 2004: GPCFB completes a Gap Study of its 11-county service area.

Fall, 2004: The food solicitation and Healthy Harvest departments join forces and become PROMAR, an effort to push the nutritional value of food acquired and distributed to its highest possible level.

September, 2004: The Floods of Hurricane Ivan present the first opportunity to implement a partnership with the American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania.

September, 2004: "A Blueprint to End Hunger" is published. Collaboratively written by many anti-hunger organizations, the Blueprint outlines a plan to end hunger in the United States.

2003: Quest Fore, Inc, a design firm, receives the IABC Golden Triangle Award for the Food Bank's 2003 Annual Report.

In 2002, 14.9 million pounds of food was distributed.

May, 2002: the Food Bank distributed the first "senior box" from the Commodities Supplemental Food Program.

October, 2001: The Food Bank received the first annual Alfred E. Wishart Award for Excellence in non-profit management from the Pittsburgh Foundation.

2001: The Food Bank receives a Pennsylvania Waste Watcher Award for Reuse of Materials.

2001: A comprehensive national hunger study is conducted by Feeding America.

2000: The Food Bank receives the Three Rivers Environmental Award for its "green" warehouse.

September, 2000: The Food Bank commemorates the 20th Anniversary at a luncheon to honor the staffs and volunteers of its agencies.

June, 2000: The Food Bank successfully completes the Capital Campaign and pays off the mortgage early.

December, 1999: The Food Bank moves to its current location, the new 94,000 square feet warehouse at 1 Linden Street in Duquesne.

May, 1999: The Food Bank receives the Catholic Charities' Caritas Flame of Hope Award, for its commitment to improving the lives of others.

July, 1997: The Food Bank's Agency Relations Department won Feeding America's "Hunger's Hope" Award for their development of food pantries in public housing communities, and for conducting life skills and nutrition education workshops for low-income single moms.

In 1996, 13.2 million pounds of food was distributed.

March, 1996: The 1st Annual Empty Bowls took place in the cafeteria of the school building at Sacred Heart Parish in Shadyside.

August, 1995: GPCFB was named "Food Bank of the Year" by Feeding America.

July, 1995: The 1st Annual Pittsburgh Blues Festival took place at the Riverplex - musical guests Bill Wharton and Koko Taylor headlined. (total raised as of 6/30/05: over $600,000)

Summer, 1994: The Food Bank released the results of a two-year research study of food pantry use in Allegheny County, More than 28,500 households were receiving food assistance through our network.

Summer, 1993: The Farm Stand project was launched as part of Green Harvest, establishing fresh produce stands in low-income neighborhoods with little or no access to grocery stores.

Summer, 1991: The Green Harvest program began, designed to bring more fresh, nutritious produce to the Food Bank. The first gleaning and community garden projects were included.

In 1990, 9.8 million pounds of food was distributed.

Winter, 1990: Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank celebrated 10 years of service to the community at a luncheon at the Westin William Penn Hotel.

April, 1990: Governor Robert P. Casey came to the Food Bank to sign the Food Donor Liability Law, which protects food donors from liability.

October, 1988: Three Rivers Table (TRT) was born. TRT rescues prepared foods from restaurants, caterers and institutions and delivers it to onsite feeding programs (total pounds to 6/30/05: 4,986,110).

In 1985, 7.8 million pounds of food was distributed.

March, 1985: The Pittsburgh Community Food Bank became the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and moved to the old Potter-McCune building in McKeesport.

Spring, 1984: The State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) was initiated and the Food Bank received $1 million for the purchase of food.

January, 1983: GPCFB became a certified member of Feeding America.

November, 1982: KDKA-TV newsman Al Julius initiated the KD Turkey Fund.

In 1981, one million pounds of food was distributed.

September, 1981: The Food Bank relocates to 10,000 square feet in a South Side ware-house.

June, 1980: Pittsburgh Community Food Bank opened its doors at 2001 Wyandotte Street in the Hill District. The Food Bank was located in 2,000 square feet of warehouse space donated by St. Vincent de Paul. The first agency to sign up and receive food was the Focus on Renewal Center in McKees Rocks.