As the holidays approach, area food pantries report they are in need of additional supplies to continue to support local families.
Three of the food pantries in the county, the Pacer Pantry, the Buckeye Valley Food Pantry, and the Kilbourne Food Pantry reported earlier this month that they have seen an increase in clients coming in for food and other items.
Amy Love, executive director of the BV Food Pantry, said this is not a sudden occurrence, and all the local pantries are feeling that increased demand.
“Our numbers have been trending up over last year,” Love said. “I’m sure that has everything to do with the prices increasing at the grocery stores. … I think it is safe to say we are all struggling to keep food on our shelves.”
Brandon Feller, president of the United Way of Delaware County, said the Pacer Pantry has also seen an increase in clients this year, and the increase prices at the grocery affect both the clients and the donors.
“Visits to Pacer Pantry have nearly doubled this fall leading into the winter months,” Feller said. “As soon as supplies come in they are out the door being put to good use, so it is difficult to keep an inventory stocked. As food prices increase, more residents are needing assistance with acquiring healthy nutrition, and the prices also impact those who are donating items for the pantry.”
Kathy Caudill, manager of the Kilbourne Food Pantry, said it averages one new client a week, and the pantry has about 25 individuals stop by each Tuesday.
“These individuals shop from two to eight family members each time they come and their four-legged family members as well,” Caudill said. “We have some of the same folks that started coming to the pantry when it began three years ago and are still coming. Some of those individuals are on disability, Social Security, or are just simply needing a little help to keep their head above water. … One young woman comes each time she is downsized from her job.”
Feller said another contributing factor to the shortage is that many assistance programs that began during the pandemic have ended.
“Many of the pandemic-era rental assistance programs have now depleted their funds, which means there is less household income available for food, so we expect the trend for increased pantry visits to continue into 2023,” Feller said.
Likewise, Caudill reported the Kilbourne Food Pantry was unable to receive grant money this year and has had to rely entirely on donations like from fifth graders at Wyandot Run Elementary School, who donated “an SUV full of canned food” and other nonperishable items or Caudill’s own employer, Emergency Plumbing Heating, who has donated a variety of items over the last month.
Caudill said the pantry is as a member of the Delaware County Hunger Alliance, and it also receives help from People In Need when it has various food distributions such as ground beef packages.
“I take advantage of whatever programs are available,” Caudill said. “The more that is donated, the less we have to spend from the money we do have. … It truly does take a village to support and help those that are in need and are struggling to feed their family.”
The BV Food Pantry reported it is in need of frozen and canned meat as well as cereal, canned fruit and vegetables, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and personal care items such as shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste and facial tissues. More information about the pantry can be found at buckeyevalleyfoodpantry.com.
The Kilbourne Food Pantry reported it is in need of cereals, Hamburger and Tuna Helper, baked beans, box scalloped potatoes, breakfast fruit bars, strawberry and cinnamon Pop Tarts, Tide laundry detergent (both bottle and pods), and bags of dog and cat food. More information about the pantry can be found at kilbourneumc.com/food_pantry.
The Pacer Pantry reported it is in need of dry cereal, canned protein such as tuna/chicken, peanut butter, spaghetti noodles and sauce, canned vegetables and fruits, snacks and personal care products. More information about the Pacer Pantry can be found at dcs.k12.oh.us/Page/5584.
The BV Pantry and the Pacer Pantry also reported being in need of volunteers.
“Volunteers are also essential,” Feller said. “Whether it’s helping to serve a warm meal, unload donated food or greeting shoppers, volunteers are an important part of making sure food is available to the community when needed.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.