The Nazareth Area FOOD BANK

Nazareth Area Food Bank

Our StoryWe are an all-volunteer, non-profit, federally tax exempt 501 (c)(3) organization


Find Help







Our Story

The Nazareth Area Food Bank has been providing food for families in the Nazareth, Pa., area for about 35 years.  Currently, approximately 240 families and individuals – a total numbering well over 400 people, including more than 200 children – are served monthly.

Unfortunately, because of lingering economic and under-employment problems in our region, the need remains great.  We’re seeing more young families and many elderly people who say they never envisioned having to turn to a food bank for food.

For most of its history, the Food Bank operated in St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church but in September 2008 we acquired our own building – a 130-year-old former railroad freight station.

Food for the Nazareth Area Food Bank comes from donations of non-perishable food items from individuals, area churches, schools, businesses and Scouting organizations, with the remainder bought with monetary donations from individuals, members of many churches in the Nazareth Area, local businesses, service clubs and other organizations.

Basic non-perishables include canned or jar goods, such as vegetables, beans, fruit, soups, pasta sauce and meals such as stew and ravioli; boxed items, such as breakfast cereal, spaghetti, macaroni & cheese, rice or noodles; canned tuna or salmon and chicken.  We also give a loaf of fresh bread, a portion of packaged frozen meat and at least one pound of frozen vegetables.  During spring and summer, a dedicated team of volunteers maintains a garden that produces fresh vegetables for clients.

Once a month — on the second Tuesday and following Wednesdays and Saturday each month – our clients receive a set of two grocery bags containing the items described above.  We try to make sure that each set of groceries is nearly identical, which means we think in counts of at least 240 of each item we provide.

We try to make those packages of groceries as nutritious as possible.  Yet we know that this amount of food – or even double portions for larger families – won’t feed our clients for an entire month, so we’re really trying to help by complementing what food they’re able to obtain by other means.

We are regional in nature in that our only criterion is that clients must reside within the municipalities that make up the Nazareth Area School District – the boroughs of Nazareth, Tatamy and Stockertown, as well as Lower Nazareth, Upper Nazareth and Bushkill Townships.

Our food bank is run entirely by volunteers on donations from the community, so the need remains great.

Buying cheapest available brands for the items listed above, we estimate that each set of groceries we give out costs between $35 and $40 a month – not including the donated meat products.

We are blessed that the Nazareth area has shown itself to be a very caring and giving community for those in need.

Nazareth Area Food Bank Volunteers
Nazareth Area Food Bank Building
Nazareth Area Food Bank Shelves
Nazareth Area Food Bank Shelves

A personal memory from 101 year old Elsie Frey.

Elsie Frey a St. John’s Lutheran Church member who’s husband was  one of the original founders of what would become the Nazareth Area Food Bank.  Her husband Joe was approached by the pastor at St. John’s in 1985 to start the ambitious endeavor of creating a food bank
When the food bank first began, there were 15 clients. As the need continued and the word spread, the number of families needing assistance increased. When Joe Frey “retired” in 1997, there were 62 families.
Initially church members brought canned goods to stock the shelves, and donated money was used to buy nonperishable food at a local grocery store to supplement what members brought.
It was the year 1985, St. John’s Pastor, Rev. Paul Spohn saw a need, he felt, could be met with a neighborhood food bank. Thus St. John’s Lutheran Church sponsored a food bank to serve the Nazareth Area School District. The only criteria for getting food was an “immediate need” At the time there were industrial closings and job losses.
A committee was formed consisting of Jane & Alex Bajan, Warren & Marjorie Boyer, and Joseph & Elsie Frey.
The first step was to get food on the shelves. Also to find a place in the church to place the shelves. At that time, the only available space was in a room above the Shepherd Room, which now houses several several offices of the Church Staff. The Committee went to various grocery stores and purchased with the money given by the congregation. Soon St. John’s Congregation and other Churches in the area, responded overwhelmingly with nonperishable food.
The food bank soon outgrew it’s space and also the area was inconvenient for people having to go up steps. Shelves were than placed in a corner of the Shepherd Room, the covering being a a large cloth.  The location continued for quite some time until that area too became too small. A room was created between the Shepherd Room and the Fellowship Hall and served the project well for many years until the purchase of a building on South Main St., Nazareth, October 2008.
Mr. Frey, continued purchasing food as monetary donations came in. He enlisted several who had small pick up trucks and each month a different person took him to the Lehigh Valley Food Bank on Union Blvd. in Allentown to purchase food. Gene Stark of Holy Family Church was one who helped Mr. Frey most frequently.  This continued until the Boy Scouts started “Scouting for Food” held the second Saturday in November. This was a tremendous project with many volunteers helping to sort and place the food on shelves.
At the beginning, 30 families would come for food once a month. Many times, food was given to someone who had an emergency need other than regular time. No one was ever turned away. Mr & Mrs. Frey would also purchase baked goods at Schaible’s Bakery Thrift Shop. Kenny Koehler worked at Schaible’s around that time and frequently would give many loaves of bread and baked goods for distribution to the people.
Later, the Boyers moved from the area. Also, vouchers were given to the people so that they could purchase food especially meat. These vouchers were taken to Bajan’s Market and people purchased what they wanted.
Alex Bajan could no longer help with the distribution so other volunteers were sought from the congregation. Among them were Herbie George and Harvey Acker who worked with Mr. Frey for a long time. At that time approximately 60 families were getting two bags of nonperishable food once a month.
In 1997, ill health forced Mr. Frey to give up his duties of the Food Bank and Betty Huth from the Congregation took over and has done a tremendous job ever since managing the program with the help of many volunteers.

In 2000 Elizabeth (Betty) Huth asked the churches in the Nazareth Ministerium to each recruit a member for the fledgling organization, and a board of directors was formed. Betty appointed the officers initially. The board met monthly to discuss needs and how to better serve the residents who used the services, as well as deciding what items to request from churches to stock the shelves and fill the bags. Eventually, the board incorporated and became an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We functioned in the space loaned to us by St. John’s Lutheran church until we outgrew it and began a search for a larger home. In 2008, through the generosity of St. John’s Lutheran Church, neighboring churches, area businesses and individuals, the board of directors found and purchased the old train depot at 529 South Main Street to house the Nazareth Area Food Bank’s permanent home.

Contact & Location:

P.O. Box 178
529 S. Main Street
Nazareth, PA 18064

Phone: 610-365-8869


Map Location:


Drop Off & Events Calendar

Nazareth Area Food Bank