The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

November 18, 2008

Food pantries report increased activity

Supply is not meeting the high demand

The message is clear from Ashtabula County’s food pantries: Supply is not meeting the high demand.

The economic downturn, fuel prices, higher grocery bills and recent area layoffs are the reasons cited for the many new families coming to food banks for relief.

“Many of our families are saying they are employed but their budgets are stretched to the limit right now and buy-

ing food has become a problem,” said Diane Bradbury, director of the food bank at Country Neighbor in Orwell. “It is just unbelievable. We are also seeing more seniors in need.”

The Country Neighbor program operates a food bank that provides food and nonfood items to emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, nonprofit day cares and shelters in Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties. It distributes includes fresh, frozen and nonperishable food. Country Neighbor’s primary source from which to purchase food is the Cleveland Food Bank.

“Typically, we would serve 70 families a month, but last month it was up to 120. The food is going out as fast as we can get it in,” Bradbury said.

St. Joseph Catholic Church’s Neighbor to Neighbor Program on Lake Avenue in Ashtabula, which distributes nonperishable food items, concurs with that assessment, as does Tender Mercies Kitchen, a ministry of Pymatuning Community Church in Andover.

“The number of people has gone way up since last year,” said Elaine Engelmann, St. Joseph Church secretary. “Our parishioners, along with Mount Carmel’s, help us out with food drives.”

Tender Mercies Ministry, led by pastors Steven and Theresa Mickels, distributes frozen and nonperishable food twice a week.

“We are seeing new families every month, with an increase especially during this holiday season (well over 100 families), but we have been able to keep up so far because we are blessed with a giving community, with all kinds of youth group organizations and individuals having food drives,” said Esther Linch, Pymatuning Community Church secretary. “Our church budget spends a lot of money on the food we buy from Country Neighbor.”

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