Eight local agencies signed a letter of commitment to fight hunger in the county as part of a United Way partnership at an event Friday at SourcePoint.
“It’s really kind of an historic event for us,” said Brandon Feller, president of the United Way of Delaware County. He said that although Delaware is one of the wealthiest counties in the state, there is also a great need, particularly since the last recession.
“More and more food banks and churches are stepping up, and that’s a result of the demand,” Feller said. “We said, everybody’s doing great work on this. We need to collaborate, and bring everybody to the table.”
After a 2012 discussion, the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and the Delaware General Health District helped the United Way form the alliance, which meets monthly and coordinates services.
“Since founding the alliance, we’ve doubled the amount of food coming into our community from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank,” Feller said. “In 2012, we had about 500,000 pounds. At the end of 2014, it was over a million.”
Friday’s signing ceremony signified a new way of funding the agencies for their programs from a pot of more than $350,000.
“We said, let’s sit down together and decide how best to use that money in our community,” Feller said. “It was a collaborative grant application. We were able to expand our partners. Last year, we were able to fund three organizations to provide food assistance. Starting July 1, it’s eight partners.”
Each representative of the Hunger Alliance of Delaware County discussed how the United Way funding would help them to feed the hungry before signing the letter.
- Elizabeth Patzke of William Street United Methodist Church said the funding would help feed children on weekends and a monthly community meal.
- Krista Ross of the Salvation Army of Central Ohio said its food pantry hours will now expand and also help feed those using internal housing programs.
- Toni Dodge of SourcePoint said the United Way funds would help it deliver meals to people aged 18-59 who are homebound, as well as installing a kitchen for the Second Ward Community Center.
- Kevin Crowley of People in Need said the 35-year partnership with United Way has helped it to grow and put on monthly produce markets.
- Chris Fink of Ohio Wesleyan University said its funds would go towards expanding a “Cooking Matters” class to teach people how to make healthy meals on a limited budget.
- Larry Crowell of Lutheran Social Services said the funding would help to increase its offerings at permanent and mobile pantries that can be accessed on a weekly or monthly basis.
- J.R. Ailes of Delaware City Vineyard and Feed Delaware food pantry said they will use the funds to build a kitchen for the “Cooking Matters” class.
- Melinda Corroto of Andrews House said its funds would be used for the summer lunch program at Woodward School, which feeds children and adults.
“One of the things I’m thrilled about is this is a complex problem, but also a multi-layered solution,” Feller said, citing the diversity in programs. He also praised the organizations for their unselfishness when it came to dividing the funds.
Mid-Ohio Food Bank spokeswoman Yolanda Owens said the Hunger Alliance partnership was a model for other communities to emulate.