TOBYHANNA, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Thanks to a $30,000 grant, the Feeding Families Ministry Food Pantry in Tobyhanna was able to purchase a forklift to help serve its community.

Back in June when the food pantry closed for the first time in ten years because of a volunteer shortage, but now thanks to a $30,000 grant, they purchased a new forklift that will help with the high demand they’re currently seeing.

A line of cars fills the Mountain Center in Coolbaugh Township Friday, trunks open wide waiting to be filled with food and drinks from the feeding families ministry food pantry.

The pantry’s outreach has tripled in the last three months and now with the help of a forklift and two pallet jacks that were donated – they’re able to keep up with the demand.

“It was getting harder and harder to find the people to do it. To be able to lift for five or six hours straight is a lot to ask of anybody, so this guy is going to do all the lifting for them,” stated Diane Tayburn, founder and owner of Feeding Families Ministry.

Tayburn said they purchased the forklift after receiving a $30,000 grant from Feeding America with the help of a second harvest.

“Most of us are older, retired people and it was really taking a toll on our backs, so the equipment that was donated is God sent and is a big help,” explained James Harley, executive director of Feeding Families Ministry.

The food pantry is seeing its highest demand since beginning in 2011 servicing more than three hundred families a week.

Tayburn said inflation and unemployment played into the need.

“Food is rising at an incredible rate, so people can’t buy as much as they need so they need support with that. They had children home over the summer, which was an issue, and now they have children going back to school, which is an issue,” explained Tayburn.

Powering up the forklift to unload over 10 pallets of food each week, the food pantry is grateful for the help to keep serving.

“For Coolbaugh Township this is a huge service. No matter what kind of car a person may be driving when they’re coming to this line, they’re also in need,” said Alma Ruiz-Smith, Coolbaugh Township supervisor.

Since our last story, the founder told Eyewitness News they’ve had a handful of new volunteers helping out, and despite the new forklift, they are still looking for more.

If you’re interested in volunteering, you can call (570) 977-3702 or send an email to feedingfamiliesministry@gmail.com