Last updated: August 23. 2013 9:14PM - 75 Views

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LIMA — Folks at a local food bank needed to clear out space in their freezer. Rather than toss out boxes upon boxes of donated goods, they opted to hold a food giveaway. If you offer it, they will come.

The West Ohio Food Bank offered the free food Thursday morning. People came by the hundreds to make off with a bag, box, cooler or laundry basket filled with food items. In a scene eerily reminiscent of Great Depression-era bread lines, people of all walks of life stood half a dozen abreast spanning the length of the parking lot at Westgate Entertainment Center, 721 N. Cable Road, to take home a little help.

“The job situation in this area is terrible. I’ve been out of work 18 months, have sent out more than 500 résumés but I can’t even get a call back,” said Wayne Cook, of Elida. “I’d give my right arm for a good job. This winter, I think, is going to be tough because people aren’t going to be able to pay their utility bills. We just have to keep looking from day-to-day.”

In a sign of the times, the line stretched across the Westgate parking lot to Biggby Coffee even before the distribution was set to begin at 8 a.m. Crews emptied the first truck by 10:45 a.m. Tempers flared briefly as those who had been waiting in line for hours wondered if they’d get any food at all. Some wandered over to the nearby McDonald’s to grab a bite as they waited 45 minutes for another truck filled with food.

“Times are tough. I have a family of five to feed,” said Tami Beach, of Lima. “Growing up you never thought you’d see this. You just went in the kitchen and got whatever food you wanted. Now, your kids can’t do that. It’s sad this is what our community’s come to.”

By 1:45 p.m., when food bank officials finally closed the line, four truckloads of food had been distributed. It was a response food bank officials admitted they didn’t anticipate.

“I did figure we would have some sort of line. When they called me this morning and said, ‘Get over here with the camera,’ I was not expecting this,” said Anna Miller, marketing and public relations manager for the food bank. “Wow. I was not expecting this. It was not what we were expecting at all.”

The need is real and the help is appreciated, according to folks who were willing to wait an hour or more in the line for a box-full of food.

“It’s a blessing they are doing this for us,” said Jeffery Womble, of Lima. “A lot of us fell on hard times.”

Miller said the event is the result of an overabundance of donations from Walmart stores across the region. The donations pushed supplies of frozen foods beyond the food bank’s ability to store them, she said.

Other events similar to today’s giveaway are likely across the region, Miller said.

“I’m a single parent of three kids,” said LaToya Townsend, of Lima. “Things like this help a lot.”

Food giveaway draws hundreds

Food giveaway draws hundreds

Food giveaway draws hundreds
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