Filling basic needs
Food pantries run short just when demand spikes
Asking for help was an emotional process for Felicia Love, a young mother who was visiting the Marietta Community Food Pantry for the first time in a long time Tuesday.
Love, 26, has a 5-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old at home in Marietta and came to First Congregational Church to help her with basic needs.
“The cupboards are bare. I need food and help for my babies,” Love said, dabbing her wet cheeks. “We get assistance but after you pay the bills and everything, there’s nothing left.”
The story is a common one that food pantry volunteers hear on a regular basis. Typically during the holidays, donations spike. But although the season of giving is over, the need never is.
“We’re facing a difficult winter,” said Ruth Griffin, director of the Tri-County Food Pantry in Lower Salem. “We picked up eight new families and we serve well over 300 individuals, 85 are children.”
Tri-County Food Pantry serves anyone in need within a 15-mile radius of its location. Griffin said she has a lot of help from area churches and several volunteers but they see a slowdown in donations after the holidays.
“Through Thanksgiving and Christmas we do real well. Salem-Liberty (Elementary) School does a food drive every year and the kids learn the importance of giving to others. But we did not get near as many donations this year as we usually do,” she said.
There are two reasons why donations tend to be up during the holidays, according to Joree Novotny, director of communications for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.
“A lot of our end-of-the-year celebrations seem to revolve around food and donations are driven by the generosity we all feel to help others,” she said. “The other reason is it’s the end of the tax season.”
The Southeastern Ohio Food Bank serves 68 member agencies including Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton and Washington counties. According to the Ohio Association of Foodbank’s annual report, 6,380,340 pounds of food were distributed last year and 118,303 households served, with 30 percent being children, 47.8 percent adults and 22.2 percent seniors.
“We really haven’t seen any noticeable fall-off since the great recession; our numbers are still high, especially with the senior population,” Novotny said. “While some of us are experiencing economic recovery, it still hasn’t trickled down to the most vulnerable populations. And SNAP and food stamps are also coming under attack, making it that much harder.”
At the Marietta Community Food Pantry, volunteers accepted a large donation from an individual on Tuesday, but there were spots on the shelves that were bare.
“November and December are usually our busiest months and there are spikes during the year, like after school starts. But even in February, we serve about 500 people,” said director Laurie Nash.
Partnering with different stores, such as Kroger, Giant Eagle, Walmart, Warren’s IGA and Aldi, helps to supplement various food pantries throughout the year. They often receive items that have damaged packaging, peeling labels or have just surpassed the sell-by date.
“This is all still good food,” longtime volunteer June Fritsche said as she stocked cans of beans.
Nash said they will stock more than food, too, including toiletries, paper goods and kits of ready-to-eat food for the area’s large homeless population.
“As long as we have room, we’ll take all kinds of goods, though our main thing is food,” she said.
And good old money is always accepted. Checks can be made out to the nonprofit food pantry of one’s choice.
“It’s a job but it really feels good to help other people,” Griffin said.
Bulk Food and Pantries
¯ 3-C Food Pantry
Third Friday, 1-7 p.m.
4550 Two Mile Run Road, Cutler Community Center, Cutler
740-989-2706 (Bruce Kelbaugh)
Notes: Wesley, Fairfield, Decatur Townships only
¯ Belpre Food Pantry (Rockland United Methodist Church)
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
2300 Washington Blvd., Belpre
Notes: Must have Belpre mailing address
¯ Beverly-Waterford Food Pantry (St. Bernard Catholic Church)
Tuesdays, 5-7 p.m.; second & fourth Thursday, 9-11a.m.
309 7th St., Beverly
¯ Marietta Community Food Pantry (First Congregational Church)
Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Wednesday, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
318 Front St., Marietta
¯ Gospel Mission Food Pantry
Wednesday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; as needed Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 4:30-8 p.m.
309 Lancaster St., Marietta
¯ L.A.M.B. – Lowell Food Pantry
First, second & fourth Wednesday of month, 9 -11 a.m.
309 Walnut St., Lowell
¯ Marietta Church of God Food Pantry
Last Friday of month, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
501 Colegate Drive, Marietta
¯ New Matamoras Food Pantry
Third Wednesday of month, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
1015 Park Ave., New Matamoras
¯ Newport Community Food Pantry (Newport Baptist Church)
Third Saturday of month, 8-10:30 a.m.; fourth Monday, 5-6 p.m.
245 Green St., Newport
Notes: Emergency food assistance for residents of Newport, Independence, Lawrence and New Matamoras. May receive help one time every three months or based on immediate need.
¯ RSVP- Commodity Boxes
Distribution on first Monday of every month at Washington County Fairgrounds, 922 Front St.
Notes: Low income seniors 60 and over.
¯ St. Vincent De Paul Society
506 Fifth St., Marietta
Notes: Leave a message and a volunteer will call you back. Provides temporary/emergency food.
¯ Tri-County Food Pantry
Third Wednesday of month, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
102 Main St., Lower Salem
¯ Western Washington County Food Pantry
Monday & Tuesday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; Thursday, 1-4 p.m., 5:30-7 p.m.
18 High St., Vincent
740-678-1065 or 740-678-2189
Notes: Warren, Barlow, Dunham, Fairfield, Wesley, Palmer, and Decatur townships
¯ Williamstown Welfare League Food Pantry
Third Saturday of the month, 8:30- 9:30 a.m.
211 Fourth St., Williamstown
On the web
¯ Ohio Association of Foodbanks: ohiofoodbanks.org
¯ Southeastern Ohio Food Bank: http://hapcap.org
¯ Feeding America: feedingamerica.org