January 26, 2013
LIMA — Car after car rolled through, each driver there just a few minutes as volunteers packed in a dry box, a frozen box, and then a few pounds of apples and onions.
Volunteers on Saturday morning at The Big Drop, a partnership between Community United Methodist Church and West Ohio Food Bank, were prepared to load those boxes 1,500 times over during the mass food distribution.
Across town, volunteers helped folks move through a food distribution at Allen East High School, a much smaller, but no less important, operation that helped feed 150 families.
Parent to Parent, a group established to strengthen school and family ties in the Allen East school district, organized the mobile food pantry, with help from other volunteers, monetary sponsorship from Lima Community Nazarene Church and in partnership with the West Ohio Food Bank.
Both methods of distribution are incredibly efficient ways to get food to people who need it, said Brian VanMeter, director of warehouse operations with the food bank.
In Lima, hundreds of volunteers worked this week to make the drop happen, as they have with previous efforts. The work began a week ago, assembling boxes and then packing those boxes with food. On Saturday, the chickens stayed frozen in their boxes on palettes as a makeshift drive-through was established at the Northland Lanes parking lot.
While other churches provide volunteers, Community UMC organizes the effort and provides much of the support.
“Jesus liked to feed people,” said the Rev. Bryan Bucher, lead pastor at Community. “He thought it was important to feed mind, body and soul.”
The mobile pantry works well because it’s a one-day effort that makes effective use of volunteer time to target smaller or rural communities.
Laura Plaugher, with the parent group, said the turnout was much better for this effort, their second.
“I don’t know if that’s because we got the word out, or if the need is greater at this time of year. People are trying to keep their houses heated, make other ends meet,” Plaugher said. “We had it here to target Harrod, Lafayette, Alger. People on the outskirts of town need help as well. We try to do this at the end of the month, to help people stretch.”
Volunteers took families around, helping them with bread, meat, frozen items, produce, desserts. And then Boy Scouts helped people take their food to their vehicles, Plaugher said.
In Lima, some volunteers took food boxes to about 150 people at the Lima YMCA Annex, Lima Towers and Barr Apartments on Friday, to help especially those who couldn’t drive to the drop. That change came in response to watching people arrive on the bus, lug their boxes back to a bus stop and ride home.
People who receive assistance through the food bank fill out paperwork self-disclosing they have household incomes at or below 200 percent the federal poverty level. That works out to about $46,000 for a family of four.