People experiencing food insecurity in Western Pennsylvania got a major boost last week when their neighbors donated $522,500 over a 16-hour period to The Pittsburgh Foundation’s #FeedPGH Critical Needs Alert. The May 1 online giving event, which was fortified with a $600,000 incentive pool from the Foundation and its donors, raised $1.1 million for Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties’ food pantries and the organizations that supply them.
“By giving to the Critical Needs Alert, the people of Pittsburgh have shown that they believe in investing their charitable dollars in helping their neighbors meet basic needs,” said Maxwell King, president & CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation. “These donations are especially important now when small, community-based food pantries are seeing increasing demand from people who are working but still are not able to make ends meet.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 33 percent of people struggling with food insecurity have one or more full-time jobs. Food pantries across the nation report increasing demand, particularly in areas where gentrification has caused costs for basic needs such as food and housing to rise. One in seven Allegheny County residents experience food insecurity, unsure where they will find their next meal, and one in six are children.
Between 8 a.m. and midnight Tuesday, 2,480 donations to 102 nonprofits poured into the PittsburghGives.org donation portal. Thanks to the $600,000 incentive pool provided by the Foundation and its donors, donations from the public triggered additional funding of about $1.37 per eligible dollar contributed. Donations from $25 to $1,000 were eligible for matching funds.
This year’s incentive pool was made up of $396,000 in grants from the Foundation and $204,000 from its donors. The Foundation’s previous four Critical Needs Alerts raised a total of $3.8 million, including match funds, and each targeted a specific area of need - food insecurity in 2013, housing insecurity in 2014 and 2015, and basic needs – food, housing, health care, child care and transportation – in 2017.
The Critical Needs Alert program enables the public to support the Foundation’s 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principle, which seeks to ensure that residents who live at or near the federal poverty line – at least one-third of the region’s population – have access to the improved economy. The event also aligns with the Foundation’s mission of improving the quality of life in the Pittsburgh region by evaluating and addressing community issues, promoting responsible philanthropy and connecting donors to the critical needs of the community.