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Tracey Selingo of Fork Over Love -- Why NEPA? image
June 20, 2023
Tracey Selingo of Fork Over Love -- Why NEPA?
Michelle Johnson

During the summer my brother and I would go outside right after breakfast, return when we were called for lunch and once again for dinner. It was so easy, simple, and carefree.

When Tracey Selingo envisioned raising her two boys, she pictured the idyllic upbringing she had in Wilkes-Barre’s Oakwood Park neighborhood. That meant summers spent outdoors with her brother and the other kids in the neighborhood exploring the woods, yard hopping and playing on dirt roads.

She grew up as a teacher’s kid. Dad taught history while Mom taught biology. Not one for sports, her formative years were filled with classical piano lessons, musical guild performances and writing.

After college at The University of Scranton, she took her shot at making it in the Big Apple and found work in copywriting.  She quickly learned city life wasn’t for her and moved to Philadelphia, where she worked for a few years before the lure of “home” pulled her and her husband Dave back to NEPA to start a family.

Life was going as planned until the pandemic hit and she was pressed with an unrelenting question: How could so many restaurants be closing when so many people are in need of food? With determination, encouragement and the right helpers, Fork Over Love was born in 2021. In two years, the nonprofit group has fed our food insecure neighbors over 45,000 meals (and counting) by purchasing food from area restaurants and distributing them for free to those in need.

We chatted with Tracey on a bench outside of Agolino’s restaurant where she disclosed her own experience with food insecurity while living in New York City and spoke about the amazing response she’s received from the community helping to feed those in need. And of course, we had to know, of all places, Why NEPA?


How long have you lived in NEPA?

A total of 46 years.

What do you love about your town?

I love the people in Shavertown. I love the quality of life. I love that you can drive down one street and feel like you’re in a neighborhood and drive down the next and you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. I love nature, so it’s just super easy to get out and enjoy our area. I mean, there’s just so much to offer.

What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?

(With 55 rotating Fork Over Love partner restaurants, rightfully, Tracey has 55 favorite NEPA restaurants. BUT, we pressed her for her personal favorites and promised to include a disclaimer to all those others that she whole-heartedly supports!)

Can I say that I have two? (laughing) I have to say that Pazzo is my favorite restaurant because of the family and the way that you are welcomed when you get in there. And Sammy’s food. And I love seeing Sammy come out of the kitchen after and mingle with people. Like the whole experience I think is amazing. So that is definitely a favorite spot. We’ve had a million family dinners there.

My second favorite restaurant, and we can differentiate because it’s pizza, would be Bernie’s Pizza in Dallas. Jill Marchakitus, I feel, is an artist when it comes to pizza. When Covid happened and she was getting ready to shut down, I purchased, I think, ten par-baked pizzas from her and froze them. And we lived off them every Friday night for that many weeks. You have to get them on your list because it’s just an amazing little place. Her pizzas are like little artisan pizzas. They’re awesome.

So, those are my two favorites. But I’m thinking of all the people I left out though!

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

I would have to say hike. Definitely my favorite. I love Ricketts Glen. I love going to Moosic Mountain to the Blueberry Trail there. I just love hiking. I love being outside.

What’s next for you?

Dinner tonight in Hazleton. That’s our next event. (While this already happened, you can find Fork Over Love’s schedule of free meals on their website). And I really have to say, for Fork Over Love, I really just think every week in terms of the events and where we are going and how we’re executing. So hopefully we’ll continue to grow, God-willing. That’s really what’s next.

Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?

I feel like there’s so much energy amongst the young professionals. I feel like there’s so much opportunity for growth. And while things might not look exactly the same as they did pre-Covid, and while the cities might be different, I think everything is really turning over in a way that is going to make us stronger than we definitely were before it. I think in our cities and towns have more people who will be moving into them. And while businesses aren’t necessarily stationed there, and that whole work/life looks different, I feel that there’s going to be a vibrancy with that that is going to be really good for us.


I had a great childhood here. (becoming emotional) Why is that making me tear up? Ya, I think that’s why. It’s been really good. The people here are amazing. I saw that when I started Fork Over Love. I worked alone here while I was raising my children. Ninety percent of what I did was online. I was using Zoom before anybody even knew Zoom existed. When I started Fork Over Love and the volunteers immediately came out and people rallied, I was reminded of how great the people are in this area. And I truly mean that, I’m not just saying it. They’re amazing. And I think it’s that spirit, that camaraderie, that certainly called my husband and I back here to raise our children. There was no other place I wanted to raise them.