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Tri-County food pantry meets local need

Photo by Jenna Pierson Volunteer Denay Layton stacks boxes in the pantry.

Nestled away in the streets of Lower Salem, Tri-County Food Pantry shares a building with The Peoples Savings Bank and serves close to 100 families, nearly 300 people, on a monthly basis.

On Wednesday, Tri-County Food Pantry resumed its monthly drive-thru with its familiar in-person socialization. For over a year now, its services have been more condensed due to the virus.

“We had a lot (of people) return today who hadn’t been here for a while due to COVID,” said Ruth Griffen, the co-director of the pantry.

Inside the building, giant boxes were piled high and filled with canned fruits and vegetables. Other smaller boxes were being prepared with bread, milk, eggs and other time-sensitive goods.

Tri-County Food Pantry began almost 18 years ago around Thanksgiving time, according to Griffen. The organization was started by her daughter-in-law and a friend, who had helped organize a relief dinner in 1998 to help the community after a flood.

“She saw the need and she was really happy to get it started,” Griffen said. “We try to pack three full meals, and then we have like mac’n’cheese, peanut butter and jelly, four staples.”

The boxes also typically include four to five snack items or canned meals that recipients can use to build up their supply over time, such as soup and crackers or other smaller items for children.

Tri-County puts full effort into trying to create additional special moments for those who utilize their pantry. As often as possible, Harvest of Hope donates cakes to add to the boxes and Tri-State has a special offering for children during their birthday month.

“We have a church that packs a bag with everything for a party in it, cake mix, icing and favors,” Griffen said.

Other boxing programs organized through Tri-County Food Pantry include pre-packed commodity boxes for seniors in need and weekly weekend bags with meals for children in need during the school year.

“We always reach out if we think somebody needs help in some other way,” Griffen said.

She works with those who have health-oriented dietary needs and assists with supplies for babies as well.

Funding is donation-based with several churches and the Marietta College Foundation, Marietta Memorial Hospital, the Marietta Community Foundation and community members coming together to bring the pantry to life.

“When we started this, we had 18 families,” Griffen said. “It is a lot of work, but it is well worth it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything…we’re just a little country community.”

To learn more about how donating or volunteering, call 740-585-2143.

“It’s just nice giving back to the community and giving back to people who need it,” said Dawson Layton, a 16-year-old who volunteers with his grandmother. “And it’s just a fun time…it’s great giving back.”

Tri-County Food Pantry is open 8-4 p.m. third Wednesdays of the month.

Jenna Pierson may be reached at jpierson@newsandsentinel.com

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