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Upgrades Underway at Food Pantry in Hazleton

HAZLETON, Pa. — For 80 years, St. Joseph’s Pantry has been serving people in the greater Hazleton area. Now, it’s undergoing remodeling to exp...

HAZLETON, Pa. -- For 80 years, St. Joseph's Pantry has been serving people in the greater Hazleton area. Now, it's undergoing remodeling to expand.

"Last year, we served over 1,200 unduplicated families and so that number continues to increase," said Neil Oberto, the program manager at Catholic Social Services in Hazleton.

These changes will make the pantry handicap-accessible and Obert hopes it will also make people who use it more comfortable.

"They're working families. These are people who are definitely struggling and have circumstances within their lives, within their families. We want them to know that this can be a place where they can come to where they'll be respected as individuals.”

Recent upgrades to the shelter and changes to the food pantry were made possible through donations and a grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

"When it opened in 1939, the emphasis was on material need, so it's ironic that we're going back in a sense to those roots and dedicating and rededicating through this rehabilitation of this food pantry," Oberto said.

The new pantry will include more shelf and freezer space and will be a client-choice food pantry

"In itself will give individuals and families more opportunity for healthy food choices because we really want to put the emphasis on that food choice."

The new and improved food pantry should be up and running by the end of the month.