West Ohio Food Bank marks 35 years of silencing food shortage

LIMA — Since 1987, West Ohio Food Bank has aided in ending hunger across the region by distributing goods to organizations and families in need. The non-profit organization celebrated 35 years of service with an event at its Kibby Street location Wednesday afternoon.

West Ohio Food Bank did not always have a 35,000-square-foot warehouse. The food bank started its humble beginnings in the basement of First United Methodist Church.

According to its website, since the start its goal has remained the same, to help people overcome food insecurity and find their way to self-sufficiency.

CEO Tommie Harner weighed in on this year’s celebration.

“Many are under the assumption that we are a pantry, but we are actually a distribution center,” Harner said. “To celebrate our 35 years of experience, we wanted to give people the opportunity to come in and check out things and ask any questions or see any of our historical information.

“We cover 11 counties, serving emergency pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. A lot of them partner with us to get their food because they can get them much cheaper than if they go to a retail store. We have over 100 of those partner agencies that come to get goods and then distribute them to people. We also do community-wide distributions throughout each of those counties.”

WOFB not only partners with agencies across the regions but also delivers food directly to seniors and those who apply for assistance.

“We are starting up a small pantry next week where clients can come in and pick and choose what they need,” said Gary Wise, the warehouse manager. “We also build senior boxes as well for clients 65 and older. Seniors can fill out an application and bring it in. In addition, we have two distributions a month where anyone can drive through and pick up a box.”

Harner informed members of the community on how to contribute to their effort to end hunger.

“We are always looking for volunteers and support, whether it be through volunteering, financial or food donations,” Harner said. “We can always use people to advocate on our behalf when it comes time for those budgets to be used on the state and federal levels. They can contact us, and we can let them know what we are trying to accomplish and what we are trying to receive and here is how you can help.”

The food bank plans to host a larger community celebration. Details will be announced soon.