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Amid Increased Food Insecurity, New Bethany's 'Souper Day' to Raise Funds for Services | WDIY Local News

Freddy G

A local nonprofit will be holding its annual luncheon later this month to raise funds to help those less fortunate in our community. And, the group says it’s coming at a particularly impactful time.

New Bethany recently announced that its 32nd annual Souper Day will take place on Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. at ArtsQuest in Bethlehem. Proceeds benefit the organization’s mission to help those impacted by housing, food insecurity, and poverty.

In a release, the nonprofit noted that this year’s luncheon comes after the ending of expanded Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) benefits in Pennsylvania.

These emergency allotments were authorized under the federal CARES Act during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 but ended in February 2023.

In a statement, New Bethany’s Executive Director Marc Riddle said that since the benefits were reduced, his organization has seen “a consistent increase in the number of people seeking food assistance.”

This included a 77% increase in households seeking access to groceries at the New Bethany’s Choice Food Pantry, and a 15% increase at Trinity Kitchen, between April 2022 and 2023.

New Bethany also served a record-high 151 lunches at its Southside Drop-in Center on May 26, an 80% increase from the same day in 2022.

Rittle said last year’s Souper Day helped New Bethany offer “street level human services” to nearly 2,000 people and housing assistance to 929 households.

“New Bethany has expanded our nutritious food access program to meet this need, but none of our programs would be possible without the support of our dedicated donors and volunteers,” he said.

Sponsorships and tickets for the event are available online, and registration is required by Sept. 14.

The nonprofit also recently announced that its Northside Bethlehem services have moved to a new location.

The new Trinity Northside Drop-in Center, previously the Trinity Episcopal Soup Kitchen, is now located in Christ Church UCC.

The center will continue offering the same resources and follows the same schedule at its new location, providing daily hot takeout lunches from 12-12:30 p.m.

“It’s our mission at New Bethany to serve the entire population of Bethlehem and Lehigh Valley at large, and the new drop-in center allows us to provide the same life-changing assistance to residents in the Northside as we’ve been in the Southside,” New Bethany’s Associate Executive Director Veronne Demesyeux, LMSW said.

The Rev. Dr. Pamela Payne of Trinity Episcopal Church said the Trinity Soup Kitchen partnered with New Bethany several years ago after the kitchen’s largest funding source ended due to the closure of its primary philanthropic benefactor.

She said the movement of the kitchen to its new location addresses both the nonprofit’s vision of a northside center, but also the church’s need to “address some long-term building issues.”

Christ Church UCC is a service-oriented congregation offering a variety of social services including a bagged delivery lunch program, emergency overnight shelters in winter, clothing and toiletry distributions.

(Original air-date: 9/4/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.
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