By DAVID GREEN
There’s no question about the need for a food pantry in Fayette. The challenge now is to keep the shelves stocked.
So far, that hasn’t been a problem, said Bob Yano, after the first seven weeks of operation for the Fayette Helping Hands Food Pantry. But with current economic conditions, the need to help feed isn’t likely to subside.
Looking through the statistics for February, Yano said about 200 families were helped, with about half of those families having children.
Not only has use of the pantry remained strong, but the core of volunteers needed to keep the store open has also been steady. About 25 people showed up last Thursday to help stock the shelves and clean.
Food and other goods have arrived from a variety of sources. The vast majority is purchased cheaply at the Northwest Ohio Food Bank in Toledo, but school groups and churches have sponsored food drives and individuals often leave items at the door of the pantry, located downtown in the former Gaslight Restaurant building.
Pennington Orchards has donated fruit and Dennis Farms continues to give potatoes.
“We’ve been getting a lot of meat donated lately and we’re trying to get more dairy,” Yano said.
A freezer and cooler are both available at the facility, which is owned by Don and Jane Stiriz.
Kris Keiser obtained a grant for the pantry that will bring in $1,100 in each of the next two months. Money has also come from the Fayette National Honor Society, the Lions Club and the Nazarene youth group.
Yano expects to receive many donations of fresh produce later in the summer when local gardens begin producing, and there’s been talk of planting a garden specifically for the pantry.
Unemployment figures show Fulton County with among the highest number of jobless people in the state, Yano said.
“I would expect to soon have 100 families a week near the end of the month when food stamps run out,” Yano said.
He’s sorry that the need for the pantry exists, but he’s delighted that Helping Hands came along when it did.
“Our opening was perfect,” Yano said. “I’m glad we’re here.”
A special spring donation drive is now underway in conjunction with the Alan Shawn Feinstein Foundation. Yano expects to receive a portion of the $1 million designated for agencies dedicated to alleviate hunger.
The more money and food donated during this period, the more Fayette will receive from the Feinstein Foundation.
Not only does the local food pantry keep its shelves stocked with donations through April, Bob Yano said, but it also gets credit for each item through the Feinstein project.
Donations can be dropped off at the pantry on Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. or in canisters at the post office, school, library, bank and churches.
Donations can also be mailed to Yano at 18118 U.S. 20, Fayette, OH 45321.