“There has been a tremendous increase in the number of families that come in,” said Pastor Julia Ronngren, West Unity United Methodist Church home of the Outstretched Hands Food Pantry. “We have had an increase in the number of repeat families, especially families with small children, in the last year.”
In the month of October, Outstretched Hands served 38 families. In the same time period, Montpelier’s Helping Hands served 114 households, 14 of which were new to the pantry. Also in Montpelier, the See & Do Club served 42 families thereby helping 138 people.
“We’re seeing more clients per month and some are new that have never been through our doors before,” said Paula Peffley of Helping Hands.
While the numbers served are up, donations in general seem to be down. “Trying to keep the shelves stocked is difficult,” Peffley said. “People may still donate but it seems the economy has everyone cutting back.”
Nearly every area food pantry mentioned the need for protein sources for their shelves. “As the economy has been bad people can’t afford to buy meat, eggs, peanut butter,” Ronngren said. “We try to give everyone that comes some form of protein when they come to us.”
“We haven’t had a can of tuna fish on our shelves for probably six months,” Peffley said. “That just seems to be an item that goes out as fast as it comes in. A friend of mine had a food drive at Lake Seneca that brought in 6 cans but those will probably go out in the first hour or so we’re open.”
Items especially in demand include: canned meat, canned tuna, peanut butter, or any other protein source. Pastor David LaDuke mentioned that the Edon Food Pantry also struggles to keep any kind of canned fruit on their shelves. “We don’t need a lot of canned vegetables,” he said “but we always have a hard time keeping canned fruit around.”
The See & Do Club also has difficulty keeping canned fruit in stock. In addition, they list peanut butter, fruit juices and cereal as being hard to come by. “We get as many items as we can from the Toledo Northwest Ohio Food Bank but these are all items the Food Bank has had in short supply lately as well,” said John Widmer, See & Do Food Pantry Director. “These are also the items that are the most expensive for us to purchase.”
Several of the area food pantries mentioned travelling to the Toledo Food Bank to stock their shelves but there can be problems getting enough to meet their needs there as well. “We go to Toledo Food Bank to stock up but when there are natural disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes or earthquakes the Food Bank is often down because corporations that normally donate to the food pantry send their donations to the disaster area instead,” Peffley said. “It makes it tough for us. They’re sending donations that way, which is good and they should do that, but it leaves the local pantries scrambling to fill their shelves.”
See & Do Club is currently gearing up for their Christmas Gift Box giveaway to be held December 6 & 7. Following the giveaway, the Club will be closed for the remainder of 2012. “People who get gift boxes must sign up for one and we will be signing people up during the entire month of November,” Widmer said. Sign up forms are available at both the See & Do Club and the Montpelier Senior Center and must be turned in to the Club by November 30th to be eligible for a box.
Included in the food boxes are: peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, fruit juice, chicken or beef broth, beef stew, pork & beans, tuna, soup, vegetables, pasta with meat (Spaghettios), spaghetti, macaroni, noodles, cake mix, cereal or oatmeal, saltine crackers, macaroni & cheese instant potatoes, pudding, Jell-O, sugar, flour, bread, meat, oleo, eggs, toothbrush, shampoo, dish soap, toothpaste, bath soap, laundry soap and toilet paper.
“If you look at all the items included in a food box you can see how much it would cost to purchase these items at a grocery store,” Widmer said. “We thank God for the giving hearts of the people, churches, clubs, businesses and ministries that donate food, other items and money to the See & Do Club.”
Helping Hands Food Pantry, located at 309 W. Washington St. in Montpelier, lists canned goods, non-perishable items, canned tuna and canned meats as food items they are always in need of. “Right now, we really don’t need any more cake mixes for a while,” Peffley said. “We just picked up a pretty huge donation of cake mixes so we’re set.” Other items regularly needed that cannot be purchased with food stamps include: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, body soap, hand soap, shampoo, dish detergent, diapers (especially sizes 3, 4 & 5), baby supplies and food, toilet paper and aspirin. Both Helping Hands and See & Do mentioned that monetary gifts are also gratefully accepted. Food pantries can purchase food and supplies at the Food Bank for as little as 18 cents a pound, considerably less than would be spent on the same food at the grocery store.
Local food pantries and their hours include:
Outstretched Hands – West Unity – This is a community-supported pantry housed at West Unity United Methodist Church. Hours of operation are by appointment only. Appointments can be made by calling the church at 419-924-2161 and leaving a message. The pantry tries to be limited to the Hilltop School District but in cases of serious emergencies they have helped people from outside the district.
Edon Food Pantry – Edon, Ohio – The pantry is run by the Edon Area Ministerial Association and is housed in the Edon United Methodist Church. Hours of operation are Tuesdays from 10 AM to noon and from 6:30 PM to 8 PM. Donations may be dropped off at any time
Helping Hands – Montpelier – Run by the House of Prayer in Montpelier, Helping Hands is located at 309 W. Washington St. Their hours of operation are Tuesdays from 11 AM to 1 PM and Thursdays from 11 AM to 1 PM and 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
See & Do Club – Montpelier – Located at 220 Depot St. in Montpelier, See & Do is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 AM to 3 PM. It is also open the third Monday of each month from 5 PM to 7 PM. Following their Christmas box donation December 6 & 7, the See & Do Club will close at 3 PM on December 7 for the remainder of the year.
Pioneer Food Pantry – Pioneer – Located at the Pioneer United Methodist Church, the Pioneer Food Pantry is open
Donations are gratefully accepted at all locations.