LIMA — It takes the whole community to make the West Ohio Food Bank’s work happen.
That’s why the organization’s employees and volunteers got so excited when it was named as a finalist for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Non-Profit of the Year Award.
“It’s a good honor and knowing the community feels strongly about us … [and that] we were qualified to be one of those finalists, we were very pleased,” said Tommie Harner, interim co-executive director at the food bank. Brian Van Meter is also an interim co-executive director.
The food bank is a distribution center that provides food to smaller member agencies in 11 counties, where community members can go to get the food. It provides food to agencies like rehabilitation centers, day cares, shelters, food pantries and more from its warehouse and office at 1380 E. Kibby St.
“Our main focus is getting food into the mouths of individuals who are food insecure,” Harner said. “We just try to do what we can, work with other agencies and … just provide food to those in need.”
Last year, the food bank distributed more than 5 million meals and Harner thinks this year it’ll do even more than that.
“Every business wants to say my business is doing great, and that’s wonderful,” she said. But it’s a “bad thing” for the food bank to do well because that means there’s “more hungry people we’re having to feed.”
The organization employs about 18 people and relies heavily on volunteers, Harner said.
What the employees and volunteers do each day can be a “constant struggle,” Harner said, because more and more individuals are needing to seek food assistance.
Harner looks at the food bank being a chamber award finalist as a “blessing.”
“It does give us wonderful recognition and credibility,” she said. It’s helpful because the food bank is trying to get its name out and get the word out about what it does, she said.
“We just continue to need community support, both financially and through volunteers,” Harner said.