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Food Distribution Program Continues in Wyoming County

Chamber News, Community

Members of the Wyoming County Community Alliance joined together with local volunteers to pack boxes for the Food Emergency Distribution Program of Wyoming County on Monday, Feb. 21. Taking part in that activity were, front row, Sue Gumble from Lackawanna College’s School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce (WYCCC) President Gina Suydam, Sarah Paddleford and Jonathan Todd. In the second row are Joan Hutchison and WYCCC Marketing and Events Coordinator Allison Schultz. In back are Timothy VanVleek, Jeremy Yadlosky and Thomas Evans. Absent from the photo are volunteers Dianne and Judd Fitze.

By Warren Howeler

On Monday, Feb. 21, the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce offices in Tunkhannock Township were abuzz with activity.

People moved from room to room, packing boxes and sealing them.

Those boxes, once packed, were then moved outside of the Mile Road facility and stacked in specific piles.

The work was orderly in its nature and the volunteers were determined to do the best job possible.

A scene like this has been commonplace at the chamber offices on the third Monday of every month for the past two years.

The purpose behind this particular day was to make sure that over 100 families within Wyoming County had enough to eat as the area—much like the rest of the nation—struggles in the aftermath of the recent pandemic.

What brought this group of dedicated people out on this Monday was the continuation of the county’s Food Emergency Distribution Program.

The initiative was started in 2020 at the height of the issues being encountered with COVID-19 and was spearheaded by Debbie Shurtleff of the Wyoming County Community Alliance.

Every month since April of that year, volunteers have gathered with representatives from the community alliance and the chamber to pack boxes of food for those in need throughout the county.

In that time, the program has delivered more than 1,500 boxes to families in need.

The non-perishable food items for these deliveries are provided by CEO and Weinberg Food Bank. Potatoes and fresh fruit are purchased for each delivery using donations provided to the community alliance.

In some cases, boxes meant for families with young children have diapers and formula included in them.

Once the boxes are fully packed and sorted to their specific destination, volunteer drivers pick them up and deliver them to where they need to be.

Approximately 100 families within the county were set to receive a box from Monday’s distribution.

The program has been made possible through donations from local businesses and residents, as well as tax credits that were awarded by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development’s Neighborhood Assistance Program.

Families who are in need and would like to be added to the distribution program are asked to sign up by going to wyccc.com/alliance.

In addition, anyone who would like to volunteer or make a donation to the program is encouraged to visit that website for more information.

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Why Shop Local?

Community

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “Small local businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy; they create two thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation.” What does that mean for Wyoming County and for local economies in general? For a number of reasons, small businesses are integral to economic success on a regional level.

While larger firms tend to hire people from broader regions, smaller businesses typically hire workers in their geographic areas. This means the wages and wage taxes remain local and cycle through the economy. Workers spend most of their wages in their own communities, which supports other businesses and jobs – the ripple effect. Earned income taxes from these wages support local government.

The businesses’ revenues are also subject to local taxes regardless of business structure. Sales taxes and property taxes from these ventures also support the local governments.

Furthermore, small businesses have the ability to respond and adapt to regional change. They know and understand their communities. They are also vested in these areas; instead of simply perceiving the locations as markets through which they may profit, people associated with small businesses are at home in their communities. They are unlikely to relocate, and because of their commitment, they tend to support their areas in a variety of ways – through philanthropy, volunteerism, and purchasing locally themselves.

There are 652 businesses in Wyoming County, which employ about 10,500 people. Over 78 percent of these businesses employ less than nine people. Although there is no way to identify how many of those 652 businesses are locally owned, many with less than nine employees fall into the category. A few of those with more than nine workers may be locally owned as well. A study by the American Economic Review found that “local businesses recirculate a greater share of every dollar as they tend to create locally owned supply chains and reinvest in their employees and community. The data also shows that local retailers return 52 percent of their revenue back into the local economy, compared to just 14 percent from national chains.”

Grant Barnhill, founder of shared workspace community Shift Workspace noted in his research that, “If every U.S. family spent an additional $10 per month at a local shop, the result would be an additional $9.3 billion directly returned to local communities.” In other words, high-level economic impact analysis demonstrates that a Wyoming County retailer with three employees is responsible for about $350,000 of impact rippling through the economy in a given year!

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