The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 3, 2012

Lake Avenue Plaza site for latest food pantry

ASHTABULA — Most new businesses would be doing well to get the kind of traffic the New Haven Church’s food pantry gets in just three hours every week.

In the first two hours of operation Monday, the pantry served more than 60 persons and distributed 160 pounds of frozen chicken, as well as canned goods, cereals and other staples.

The pantry, which is replenished through Country Neighbor and direct donations, opened March 1 and filled 65 orders in its first month, said Ivory Wofford, wife of the Rev. Wilbert Wofford, pastor of the church.

The Rev. Wofford was installed as pastor of the church a year ago. The congregation is small, about 20 persons, but Ivory Wofford said they felt a need to provide a neighborhood food pantry.

“It was on our hearts and it’s needed,” Ivory Wofford said, explaining why the church opened the pantry, which is within a mile of the pantries at Faith Lutheran, GO Ministries, St. Joseph Church and Salvation Army. The Salvation Army’s pantry is an “emergency” pantry that does not have scheduled hours.

Wofford said the Lake Avenue Plaza location is convenient for the many families that live in the apartment complexes and mobile homes off West Avenue and Carpenter Road.

“New Haven is where the public housing is, and that is a target area, so it is a good fit,” said Dianna Bradbury, director of warehouse operations for Country Neighbor Food Bank.

“It’s a broad area,” Ivory Wofford said. “If they don’t feel safe and secure going to (one of the other pantries), they can come to the plaza.”

Bradbury said that because New Haven is a member pantry, clients will be tracked through the system to avoid over-use of the service. She said there are 24 member food pantries in Ashtabula County, eight of them in Ashtabula City.

Recipients need to provide a driver’s license or other proof or residency and sign a statement certifying that they have a qualifying income — not more than $418 a week for a one-person household or $565 a week for two persons.

Wofford said they are seeing clients of all ages access the pantry, but many of them are retired persons and grandparents raising grandchildren. Bradbury said that’s a trend seen across the county.

“We’re seeing more and more grandparents raising their grandchildren,” she said. “And we’re seeing a new trend of children moving back home with their parents.”

Bradbury said that they are increasingly seeing single persons between the ages of 18 and 59 use the pantry system for the first time.

Wofford said demand is particularly strong at the end and beginning of the month, before the food stamp cards are replenished.

While the pantry gets its food through the Country Neighbor Food Bank, which is supplied by the Cleveland Food Bank, there is always a need for donations from the community. The church accepts donations during the pantry hours, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday, and when it is open for services — 7 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. Sunday. It is located next to Premiere Fitness in the Lake Avenue Plaza.

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