New location leads to bump in those served at pantry

Photo by Michele Newbanks Sherry Hill checks over pre-sorted boxes at the Greater Marietta Community Food Pantry Tuesday afternoon. The pre-sorted boxes are set up for families of four or six.

When the Greater Marietta Community Food Pantry opened their new location in October, the hope was that an increased number of people would utilize their services.

That wish has been realized.

Sherry Hill, director of the pantry, said since the move to the rear of the Broughton Commercial Properties Complex 1, building 3 on Ohio 821 from downtown Marietta, they have seen a 5 to 10 percent increase in families served.

“We have about 250 families per month, which is about 700 individuals,” she explained Tuesday afternoon. “In December, we had 37 new families who hadn’t been served previously.”

Hill said when they moved, they had a vision of aiding the people in pockets of Washington County that weren’t being served on Front Street.

The new location is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The pantry has seen an increase in families served in Lowell, Waterford and Wingett Run, but areas such as Belpre, Reno, Macksburg, Whipple, Fleming, Cutler and Beverly are still served as much as ever, Hill said.

“People in some of the outlying areas didn’t visit the pantry on Front Street,” she said, adding that now, families and neighbors carpool to the pantry. “And the CABL bus stops on Thursdays. They pick people up at the (Washington County) Courthouse at 10 a.m. and return them at 11 a.m.”

Hill said there has been a lot of positive feedback from the families served. The new facility has more parking, handicapped parking and is handicapped accessible.

One of the biggest sources of positive comments is the new client intake room, which used to be in a hallway at the church. Now there is plenty of room for clients to take care of business before receiving their boxes of goods.

While there is more room to store goods, there are still items needed, such as canned beans and tuna, jelly, noodles, eggs, spaghetti sauce and fresh produce. The pantry is also in need of paper products like paper towels and toilet paper, things people can’t purchase with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

“We need eggs all the time. We don’t receive those through food vendors and they aren’t available through the (Southeast Ohio) food bank in Logan,” Hill explained. “Produce is a rarity, but kids need apples and oranges. Many pack their lunches.”

Hill said the pantry will set up a booth at the River City Farmers Market starting Feb. 8. The market is held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month at the fair board office at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Those manning the pantry’s booth will be soliciting donations and providing handouts to explain where the pantry is and what they do.

That is just one way they continue to reach out to families who are food insecure, which means they don’t have the funds to purchase food, said Marietta resident Jan Gertz, who has volunteered almost two years with the pantry.

“I think it’s going better than I thought it would,” she said. “People may have gotten lost the first time they came out (to the new location), but they seem to like the place.”

Gertz said along with food and hygiene bags, their clients also can get household supplies if they are available.

“Everybody uses toilet paper,” she said. “We have some churches that make up the hygiene bags. Some make up birthday bags for children under the age of 10. They have cake mix and icing, balloons and a game or toy. It’s wonderful they do that.”

Hill said the hygiene bags are filled with useful products such as shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, a bar of soap and a wash cloth.

Tina Allphin of Marietta volunteers on Thursdays and said she has received a lot of positive comments.

“It’s a good location and centralized,” she explained. “A lot more people come from out in the country. You wonder where those people went before (for assistance).”

She said she started volunteering when she retired because she likes talking to the clients who come in. Giving someone a smile or an encouraging word can help someone who is down on their luck, she has found.

“I just like to help people. You don’t realize how bad some people have it in our community unless you get involved with something like this,” Allphin said. “Nobody knows when they might need help. People are proud and don’t want to ask for help, but the help is there if they need it.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

Marietta Community Food Pantry

• Opened Ohio 821 location in October.

• Increase in new families served by 5 to 10 percent.

• Was formerly housed at the First Congregational Church in Marietta.

• Pantry will have a booth at the River City Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month.

•Open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday evenings from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Source: Sherry Hill.