Hero of the American Red Cross 2021: Jay Warral | Berks’ heroes

RIDING, PA. – When the pandemic forced businesses to close, many families wondered how they were going to get the next meal. The food bank, which serves Berks and Shuilkil counties, immediately came to the rescue.

Now its leader Jay Warral is honored as a Red Cross Hero.

In stores during the pandemic you will see empty shelves, no toilet paper. Hand sanitizer and wipes are nowhere to be found.

Everyone was wondering if we could buy them and if they would be put on the shelves. What if instead of needing these items, you would be wondering how you are going to feed your family.

Just days after the closure, it became a reality for some Berks County residents who never dreamed they would need such help.

“You could see that these were people who never expected to be in the food pantry queue,” said Jay Warral of Helping Harvest Fresh Food Bank, which headed the food bank in its first year.

Warral gave food that saved lives. During the week of March 2020, the distribution of Helping Harvest food more than doubled.

“It was as if someone had turned off the lights, and the problem for us at the time was that the same number of people were still working in the warehouse,” Warral continued. “We had the same number of trucks, we had the same number of truck drivers since we had to distribute our usual volume, but suddenly we hand out a much larger amount of food and see many, many, many people in our queues ».

The journey through the food banks began in April, and we realized in a way we had not understood before, how close to the fact that some do not have enough money to buy food.

“We would be lost. We would lose a lot of time,” said Jeanne Shannon. “What do you need to know?”

People helped. Jeanne Shannon takes what she needs and gives the rest to others.

The companies donated what they could. There were government grants and volunteers who wanted to help. The crisis has revealed popular characters.

While grocery store shelves have returned to normal, recovery from the food crisis will take some time.

“We expect people who rely on us to share more of their food needs than they did before relying on us for the first time, they’ll probably need food from us for a long time, and I not average months. I think I mean probably years, ”Warral says.

Helping Harvest with pantries, homeless shelters and dining kitchens will be here to help.

Organizers say the best way to support Helping Harvest is through financial donations. They say only one dollar allows them to buy food for $ 20.00.

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