Even though the building was torn down, “the need wasn’t going away, and we weren’t going away,” said Amy Love, director of the Buckeye Valley Food Pantry.
The pantry, established in 2008, was originally housed in a building on the campus of Buckeye Valley East Elementary.
The Buckeye Valley Local School District had donated the space to the pantry until the district demolished the building to construct a new elementary school. The pantry now resides at 101 E. High St., Ashley, across the street from the U.S. Post Office.
Love said the pantry serves about 130 people a month by providing food and personal care items to all residents of the Buckeye Valley Local School District. She added residents need to bring in a bill or some type of proof showing they reside in the school district in order to receive help from the pantry.
“We are here to serve the entire Buckeye Valley community,” she said. “Are we helping this community more than Ostrander and Radnor? Yes, but it’s just because of our location. We’re housed in Ashley because there was building.”
Love said that the pantry will get people from Ostrander and Radnor, but that’s only when they have money to put gas in their car.
“They don’t always have gas in their car,” she said. “They are going to use their gas to go to a doctor’s appointment rather than come here.”
Love added she hopes these individuals are stopping at People In Need, Inc. of Delaware County or one of the other food pantries in Delaware when they go to appointments. She said since Ashley isn’t a walkable community, many of the clients will carpool with their neighbors.
Love said the pantry operates thanks to volunteers from throughout Delaware County. She said has had volunteers from Powell, Dublin and Lewis Center.
“Without volunteers, we couldn’t do what we do,” she said.
Love said Panera Bread in Delaware donates leftover bread, bagels, cakes and other sweets to the pantry. She said there are five volunteers, including herself, that picks up the bread once a week.
“When we get it from Panera, it’s in a garbage bag or a box and not separated,” she said. “We take it home and package it up.”
The pantry has a table in the front room where the bread and sweets are placed for people to pick up when they come into the pantry.
“The sweets are gone first,” Love said. “Usually, there is bread and bagels left over, but the cakes and cookies and all that stuff are gone.”
Love said that the guys from the John Freeman Foundation and John Freeman’s “Whatever You Think It’s Worth” Annual Christmas Breakfast donated two refrigerators, an upright freezer, shelving, cabinets and office chairs. She added the mission of the pantry is to feed people, not buy office furniture and other things.
“That is something that they just helped us out with,” she said. “They were so fantastic. They brought in a truck. They brought in guys to help unload it and then took the old stuff that we were disposing of and took it away. Those guys are really awesome.”
Love said the extra refrigerator will come in handy because they have had to turn away produce donations because it would have spoiled without refrigeration.
The pantry, Love added, also participates in the Backpack Program with the school district.
“The only requirement to get a backpack is they have to be on the free or reduced lunch list,” she said. “We only give 34 kids backpacks,” she said. “There are probably 100 or more kids in Ostrander. We give out nine backpacks there.
“We get a grant through the Delaware Health District to provide the service,” Love added. “Next year, it’s still kind of up in the air because we’ve applied for a grant with Delaware City Schools to the United Way of Delaware County asking them for money to fund our program next year.”
Love said the hope is to expand the program to include the families of the children that are on the free or reduced lunch program.
To volunteer or donate to the Buckeye Valley Food Pantry Inc., call 614-507-0426. The pantry is open from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.