Though news reports state that the economy is improving, there are many county residents going hungry. Families with children have been particularly hard hit, and members of the “working poor” who fall through the cracks may not have other helping resources available. Thankfully, there are sources of help available from community organizations and area churches. As demand for help increases, the need for donations increases as well and all are still in need of food and paper items to replenish their stocks. Individuals and organizations are welcome to donate to any of the area food pantries.
In Williams County there are a variety of food pantries. Helping Hands of Montpelier serves approximately 100 families per month – and that number is increasing – in addition to their monthly income-based commodities program and the government subsidy sponsored Senior Box program. Though they purchase some of the food from the Seagate Food Bank in Toledo at low cost, they are always in need of food donations. Some of the items that are presently needed are Campbell’s soups, canned spaghetti such as Spaghetti-O’s, canned vegetables (mostly potatoes, peas, carrots, and sauerkraut), chili beans and boxes of cereal. When paper products and hygiene products are donated, those go quickly as well. The Helping Hands Food Pantry is located at 309 W. Washington Street in Montpelier and is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Those wishing to make donations may come by during their hours of operation and by appointment by calling 419-485-5575.
The See and Do Club located at 220 Depot Street in Montpelier is always in need of fruit juices as those go quickly to families with children. They also need boxed cereals, items with canned meat such as beef stew and pork and beans. They can use boxes of macaroni and boxes of macaroni and cheese as well as spaghetti supplies, and basics such as sugar and flour. They have a refrigerator on site so they can accept eggs. They freeze bread so are able to accept that item as well. Director John Widmer said that they were blessed by many donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season and because of generous donations were able to replenish their stock for January, but are still in need of donations for the current and upcoming months. Their hours of service are Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on the third Monday of the month from 5 p.m to 7 p.m.
In Bryan, Ohio, Grace Community Church located at 206 W. Bement Street provides food for Williams County residents. They are in need of basic items such as spaghetti and sauce, macaroni and cheese, soups, oatmeal, Hamburger Helper, and canned vegetables. They have a refrigerator/freezer on site and also are in need of ground hamburger, chicken breasts, eggs, sliced cheese, and margarine. They do not provide paper or hygiene products. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
Outreach of the Bryan Area provides food bags three times per week on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Those wishing to receive assistance must call 419-636-4717 from 12 noon until 2 p.m. to arrange a pick up time for food. Packed bags are prepared and families will receive a number of bags according to number of family members, with up to three bags. Each bag weighs from 26 to 37 pounds and is set up to provide complete meals. Clients may receive food once every three weeks. The need is always great, and the numbers of those in need is increasing. Outreach accepts cash donations as well as food donations. Paper products and hygiene products can be donated as well, but providing food is their main priority. They could use donations of the following products: canned fruits, canned meats (beef, chicken, tuna), Manwich, noodles, and soups (tomato, chicken noodle, cream of mushroom). They are also in need of soap and paper products. Monetary donations are always welcome. Outreach has received food from drives such as the annual Boy Scout food drive, the letter carriers food drive, Curves, the Kiwanis Club, and donations from Bryan area residents. Outreach has been in service for over 41 years, starting in 1972). The need has significantly increased since 2007. During the first week of the month, they may hand out 20-25 bags per week, but this increases to 40-50 bags at the end of the month. Outreach is housed at the Wesley United Methodist Church at 903 Center Street in Bryan. Anyone wishing to donate via check may address it to the church to the Outreach Mailbox. Those wishing to donate items in person may call the above number.
Jehovah Jireh Food Pantry at the First Assembly of God Church at 1105 Alpine Drive serves an average of 24 families during their once per month distribution on the first Monday of each month. They have a small pantry that is not designed to serve large amounts of families. At present, their food is purchased from The Toledo Food Bank and received from the Seagate Food Pantry. Recipients must meet income eligibility requirements and are allowed a specified number of items according to income and family size. The church accepts monetary donations as well as food items which are not spoiled or which have not reached the expiration date. After that date, food items must be thrown out. Paper and hygiene products are also welcome and accepted, and they distribute those items when available.
There are three food pantries serving the Pioneer area. Lakeview United Brethren at 4616 Territorial Road in rural Camden, Michigan, serves the Hillsdale area and northern Williams County. They provide food mostly for those associated with or referred by church members. They have a small pantry and are always in need of non-perishable items.
The Pioneer Nazarene Church at 13962 County Road S (at State Street) provides food for area residents. The pantry is normally open as needed during weekdays and by appointment. The food items that they need to replenish frequently is bread and macaroni and cheese. They also stock paper and hygiene products and could use laundry detergent and softener, personal hygiene items, toothpaste, and bath soap.
Pioneer United Methodist Church has a small pantry and are always in need of basic food items such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and sauce, Hamburger Helper, canned meats, peanut butter, and cereals. Food needs increase during vacations and summers when children are not in school. They also provide paper and hygiene products which go quickly. The church is normally open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon, and the first two Saturdays of the month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and by appointment. During those Saturdays, a free kids clothing closet is also open. They serve anywhere from one to ten families per week.
Outstretched Hands in West Unity at the United Methodist Church at 311 N. Liberty Street provides food and hygiene items by appointment by calling the church at 419-924-2161. Pastor Julia Rongrenn said that there continues to be a great need, and that they serve an average of 30 – 40 families per month, some with as many as six children. She has seen an increase since there have been cuts in food stamps, and said that a family with several children had seen their benefits decrease to only $120 per month. They are in need of sources of protein such as peanut butter, canned tuna, canned chicken and canned beef. They are also always in need of boxed spaghetti, boxes of macaroni and cheese, instant rice, packets of instant oatmeal, sugar, ramen noodles, canned fruit besides applesauce, canned corn and canned carrots. They always have a great need of toilet paper, as well as personal hygiene items such as deodorant, bath soap, and shampoo. She said that the women of the church are in the process of developing a photocopied, stapled cookbook so that clients of the food pantry can learn how to cook with the basic supplies and also learn to cook items such as dried beans, and to help them stretch their food budget. The church hopes that in the future they may have hours for distribution of perishable items such as eggs and bread, but do not presently have that capability and resource. Persons will often stop by the church if there is a car in the lot, or they can contact Pastor Julia via the phone number on the church sign. Donations can be made by calling the church.
The need for donations is not expected to lessen any time soon. Regardless of the time of year, these food pantries could use the help of area individuals and organizations who are able to give financially or by donations of food and hygiene items.