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‘Feeding Happy Valley’ Project Gives Back To Community & Businesses In Need

A new local project, “Feeding Happy Valley,” set for a soft launch early next month, hopes to help address food insecurity and aid struggling small businesses at an extremely crucial time.

While small businesses and community members in State College are still recovering and trying to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, Feeding Happy Valley may just be the saving grace.

The project was founded by State College native John Patishnock and funded by a 3 Dots’ Awesome Foundation grant last month. Community members will have the opportunity to prepay for others’ meals at participating restaurants for those in need who can’t regularly pay for meals.

Feeding Happy Valley is also hoping to help small businesses who are suffering financially by bringing in more customers and revenue as a result of the project. Each participating restaurant will receive $100 to be dedicated to ten gift cards of $10 each. The $1,000 grant will fund approximately 100 meals in the community. 

“State College is no different than any other town in that we have neighbors and friends who are in need and struggling, and if you’re able, I think it’s important to give back and lift up one another,” Patishnock said. “I also hope the business owners get a sense of recognition and appreciation for everything they’ve done for the community, and I hope the community learns more about the participating restaurants.”

Patishnock was inspired to start this project after a similar one popped up on his Facebook feed at a restaurant in Louisiana. After considering Happy Valley his home for his entire life and seeing firsthand how the community has suffered in the past year, Patishnock knew he couldn’t sit back and do nothing. So, he applied for the 3 Dots’ Awesome Foundation Grant.

“I’m also very aware of the economic impact that COVID-19 has had on our community. There were times last summer or fall when I’d walk downtown, and it was so surreal. State College truly felt like a ghost town, and I had never experienced anything like that feeling before,” Patishnock said. “Now, the town is slowly coming back to life. I have no doubt that the State College community is going to roar back, and for us to truly get to where we want to be, we’re going to need to support one another.”

Patishnock reached out to local restaurants to partner with him in this project, and so far, Good Day Cafe, Cafe Lemont, and Bonfatto’s are confirmed partners, with more to come in the coming days and weeks.

Patrons will be held to the honor system, meaning all they need to do at these participating locations is ask for a card for the Feeding Happy Valley project to receive one no questions asked. Patishnock said participants will be able to ask for multiple cards, as food costs easily vary.

Those not directly located in State College can also contribute by purchasing gift cards online and supporting the project that way. Patishnock acknowledged that this project would not be possible without 3 Dots selecting Feeding Happy Valley as its grant recipient. He said he’s hopeful about how the project can expand in the future.

“Happy Valley is my home, and this is where I aspire to have an impact. The State College and Penn State communities have provided my family and me with so many amazing opportunities, and I owe a debt to State College and Penn State that I’ll never be able to repay,” Patishnock said. “Hopefully, Feeding Happy Valley can serve as a positive resource for our community members who are in need while also providing an economic boost to local business owners.”

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a junior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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