Male volunteer cooking food

A path out of poverty in Pittsburgh

From food aid to day camps, this nonprofit has adapted to meet the needs of its community for more than 50 years

Since its founding in 1970, the East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM) of Pittsburgh has worked to change the lives of people facing the impacts of poverty. Over the years, that has meant operating everything from food pantries and soup kitchens to emergency shelters and youth programs. In EECM’s 50th anniversary year, the need for food assistance became even more acute. According to Feeding America, in 2020 nearly 14% of Allegheny County residents experienced food insecurity, up from 10% the previous year.1 As the need for food distribution services more than tripled, EECM served some 72,000 hot meals and distributed 600,000-plus pounds of healthy groceries.

Food insecurity is expected to be a lingering effect of the pandemic, and the current demand for groceries and meals remains high. EECM meets it with free hot lunches every weekday at its community kitchen, available for takeout or eating in. Clients can visit its food pantry once a month to stock up on fresh produce, meats, dairy, dry goods and other shelf-stable items. Since 2014 EECM has also maintained a community garden, where clients are encouraged to pick their own greens and vegetables as needed.

As part of its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, Bank of America provides funding for EECM’s ongoing food programs as well as its youth programs, which are designed to help children succeed in school, explore new interests, make healthy decisions and build self-esteem. EECM’s wide variety of programming also includes housing assistance for those who are experiencing homelessness, case management for families and individuals struggling with addiction or mental health issues and employment resources and training.

The Impact of Coronavirus on Food Insecurity,” Feeding America, March 2021