A substantial grant secured by a local businessman will allow Solanco Neighborhood Ministries to provide fresh fruit, vegetables, and cheese to nearly 300 school children every week.
The grant, facilitated by Verizon Wireless store owner Bashar Abdo, will allow the ministries' weekend food program to buy oranges, apples, grapes, carrots, and cheese for 280 students, said Teresa Dolan.
Six local organizations work together year round to provide services to the Southern End.
Now they're joining forces for a special event geared to raise funds to assist them with the work they do.
The Southern End is still waiting for its first killing frost.
So far this fall, temperatures have rarely dipped into the lower 30s and most days see highs reaching the upper 60s.
But it's still time to start thinking about winter and ways to stay warm, says Solanco Neighborhood Ministries director Teresa Dolan.
The nonprofit will begin accepting applications for its heating fuel assistance program on November 1.
Solanco Neighborhood Ministries wants to help students pack up for school.
But to do that, the nonprofit needs backpacks and other school supplies.
"We're looking for backpacks for all ages," said community support specialist Hannah Linde.
In January, the federal supplemental food assistance program SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, made a double payment.
Meant to offset the effects of the partial federal government shutdown, the second payment came nearly a month early for families who receive the benefit.
That has meant some families will go six weeks or longer without new support.
Nationwide, that has put an additional burden on food banks. So far, that effect has not reached the Solanco Food Bank.
Five Southern End nonprofit organizations are among the groups that will participate in the Lancaster Community Foundation's Extraordinary Give program November 16.
The Solanco Education Foundation, New Hope Community Life Ministries, the Quarryville Library, and the Southern End Community Association have taken part for a number of years. This year, Neighborhood Ministries will join the effort.
According to the calendar, winter's just a week away.
The thermometer isn't so sure.
Over this past weekend, temperatures reached early-October levels and forecasters are predicting the thermometer will reach 60 on Christmas Day.
That makes it an ideal time to buy heating oil and propane, said Teresa Dolan, director of Solanco Neighborhood Ministries.
A warmer winter and lower prices have put less stress on a local fuel fund.
So far this year, the fund has assisted 10 families.
That compares with 75 families the fund helped last year.
Teresa Dolan is about to give people an easy way to share their garden bounty.
Beginning in early June, Dolan and others at Solanco Neighborhood Ministries, which operates the food bank, will be handing out produce twice a week. A free produce market will be offered to food bank clients.
What is available will depend on the generosity of others.
"We get calls a lot," said Dolan, who explained that people with gardens want to share what they've grown. "People have been offering. Lately, we've received a ton of calls (with offers of donations). It's really exciting," said Dolan.
If given the proper budgeting skills, area families may not reach a crisis point leading them to seek help at the Solanco Food Bank.
That's the opinion of Teresa Dolan, Director of Solanco Neighborhood Ministries, which operates the food bank.
Solanco Neighborhood Ministries new fuel assistance plan is working well, despite having to cope with the coldest winter in 20 years.
Beginning this year, the non-profit requires clients to pay half of the cost of an emergency fuel delivery.
Families who need emergency help buying heating fuel this winter will be expected to help pay for the assistance.
In the past, Solanco Neighborhood Ministries has paid for a minimum fuel delivery for people who need emergency help.
The rising cost of home heating fuel and the increased demand for assistance has led the agency to change that program for the coming heating season. It will offer matching grants this winter rather than paying the entire cost of a minimum fuel delivery.
Spectators are accustomed to people handing out bags of chips, bottles of water, and other items from floats and commercial entries in the annual Solanco Fair parade.
This year, Solanco Neighborhood Ministries wants to reverse the process.
"We're asking for people to pay it forward," said board member Marlin Nafziger. "We're asking them to give, not to get."
Members of the ministry want spectators to bring canned and other nonperishable food items to donate to the Solanco Food Bank, one of the nonprofit's outreach programs.