Demand for Oberlin food pantry rising


By Laurie Hamame - lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com



FOOD OPPORTUNITIES

• To get help from the Oberlin Community Service food pantry, visit the center from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you arrive after 11:45 a.m. or 4:45 p.m., you will be offered a pre-packed bag. Oberlin residents may select fresh produce, nonperishables, and prepared food items. When available, household goods, toiletries, and diapers are also offered.

• A free produce distribution is held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month at Oberlin Community Services and 4-6 p.m. the last Thursday of the month from July to October outside of the Oberlin Depot. You may walk in or go through a drive-through. A photo ID is required.

• Free summer lunches are available for anyone in Oberlin up to age 18 who qualifies for free-and-reduced price lunch. No ID or paperwork is required. Call for more information.

• Community members can plant and harvest food at an on-site community garden. If produce is taken, it must be weighed by Oberlin Community Services staff for tracking purposes.

HOW TO HELP

The center accepts monetary, produce, and time donations. To donate or volunteer, call 440-774-6579 or show up at 285 South Professor St. between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

More families in our small town are struggling than you may think.

Hannah Rosenberg, food programs coordinator at Oberlin Community Services, said the number of people who rely on the center’s pantry is “steadily and slowly increasing in demand.”

She sees 300 families per week on average, totaling roughly 1,200 families in June.

There is no clear-cut answer as to why more families are relying on food pantries, Rosenberg said, but she pointed to the continuing decrease in state and federal support for people who are struggling.

From June 1 to when we spoke to Rosenberg on July 16, she counted 5,802 “points of service,” which includes family members and the number of times people have used the pantry.

One person in a family is counted as a single point. If that same person comes again the next day, the visit is counted as a another point of service.

Last summer, the pantry had 5,778 points by this time.

The 2016 number — 5,966 — is skewed because the center’s free produce distribution started in June. This year, the summer program began in July, which Rosenberg said will “skyrocket” points of service. It is open to anyone who lives in Lorain County.

The numbers do not take into account the summer foods service program, which gives free helps students who qualify for free and reduced meals during the school year. So far this summer, 4,209 lunches have been distributed, which Rosenberg said “certainly double from last year.”

In the pantry, fresh produce is always the biggest demand.

“People get really excited about produce and sometimes come only for it. Protein items, too — meat, tuna, peanut butter. People are less excited about canned items and bread. And everyone loves dessert,” Rosenberg said.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame

lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com

FOOD OPPORTUNITIES

• To get help from the Oberlin Community Service food pantry, visit the center from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you arrive after 11:45 a.m. or 4:45 p.m., you will be offered a pre-packed bag. Oberlin residents may select fresh produce, nonperishables, and prepared food items. When available, household goods, toiletries, and diapers are also offered.

• A free produce distribution is held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month at Oberlin Community Services and 4-6 p.m. the last Thursday of the month from July to October outside of the Oberlin Depot. You may walk in or go through a drive-through. A photo ID is required.

• Free summer lunches are available for anyone in Oberlin up to age 18 who qualifies for free-and-reduced price lunch. No ID or paperwork is required. Call for more information.

• Community members can plant and harvest food at an on-site community garden. If produce is taken, it must be weighed by Oberlin Community Services staff for tracking purposes.

HOW TO HELP

The center accepts monetary, produce, and time donations. To donate or volunteer, call 440-774-6579 or show up at 285 South Professor St. between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.