| By Alexandra, 7th grade |
June 2020 … Martha’s Choice Marketplace in Norristown is more than a pantry giving food in boxes to people in need—it’s a whole grocery store with aisles where people can choose what they need, based on their family’s needs.
Now, because of the coronavirus, Martha’s Choice has started a drive-through system that provides people with fresh produce as well as canned and dried food, according to to Patrick Walsh, the manager, and assistant manager Eli Wegner.
In an interview this spring with the East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin, they said many people who come to Martha’s Choice are older adults or have disabilities and are more vulnerable to the virus. The drive-through has helped many people to safely get the food they need without being put at risk.
Martha’s Choice, which is a project of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services, has been helping many customers over the years. But now it has been an even bigger help to the community during the pandemic, when many people have been left without work.
Between 600 to 700 people every week receive food for their families, triple the amount before the coronavirus pandemic, Eli and Patrick said. They started working at the pantry in 2015 and have redesigned the way food is provided by giving customers more food options and the freedom to choose among them. They call it the “choice method.”
The system of food distribution Martha’s Choice used before they took over was a “giver and receiver” relationship between volunteers and customers, Patrick explained. “Now, we are all one big group all together.” The new “choice method” has brought the community together and is introducing friendship and kindness to it, according to Patrick and Eli.
Many people who were customers and depended on Martha’s Choice for food, are coming back as volunteers. Patrick and Eli say that they love seeing the people in the community growing close, regardless of differences that would usually set them apart like age, disabilities, and backgrounds.
Because of the pandemic, no volunteers are allowed to help out, so there has been a lot on Patrick and Eli’s backs. They spend almost all of the week preparing the bags of food, and then Wednesdays and Fridays giving them out.
Without their hard work, kind hearts, and dedication to help others, many families here in Norristown would not have the food they need. Together, Patrick and Eli are making the world a better place, starting within our own community. –Alexandra is a reporter for the East Norriton Bulldog Bulldog