Richland County food pantry competes for grant money

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SHILOH, Ohio — Volunteers with the Plymouth Shiloh Food Pantry of Richland County are hoping that enough people will go online to vote, to help them win grant money to pay for some much needed infrastructure.

The pantry, which serves students and adults in four rural Ohio counties, is participating in Walmart’s Food Pantry Holiday Makeover campaign. The top 75 food pantries with the most votes will be awarded $20,000.

Rose Jaeckin, pantry coordinator, said volunteers plan to use the funds to upgrade their freezers and to potentially purchase a 1-ton van for making deliveries.

The freezers are old homeowner models and volunteers would like to upgrade to more efficient, commercial units. The van would help transport foods such as meat, which is donated to the pantry in large quantities.

The pantry serves a large volume of customers, who often must travel many miles, or rely on home delivery. So far this year, the pantry has fed more than 27,000 people, Jaeckin said.

To see the Ohio options and vote, click here.

Christmas is always a busy time, and includes outreach programs such as a community Christmas basket program, which provides families with 300-pound baskets of staple grocery items, as well as the “Christmas Corner Program,” which consists of a department store setting in which families can shop for gifts and holiday items for each of their family members.

Lengthy trip

Jaeckin said when people visit the pantry, they often go home with several days’ worth of goods, because it’s a lengthy trip. Volunteers try to make it a “one-stop” shop, and try to provide enough meals to stretch five-seven days.

Walmart is offering the contest to help food pantries “refresh their facilities” so they can do a better job of “helping families who may struggle with hunger.”

If the pantry gets enough votes, it would provide some much needed relief for outdated equipment.

“It would mean that I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about equipment breaking down,” Jaeckin said. “It would also mean that I would have appropriate amounts of food to feed my clients.”

Jaeckin tries to treat the customers the same way she would her own family.

“After someone comes to us the first time they become part of our family,” she said.

Making progress

As of Dec. 8, the pantry had more than 400 votes. There’s no set number for what they need, but they must be in the top 75 to be funded.

The pantry has a rich, 30-year history and includes 50-70 volunteers, some who are local FFA members.

Laura Ringler, agricultural education teacher at Plymouth High School, said her students help at the pantry various times throughout the year and also grow a garden behind the school, where they grow produce for the pantry.

The garden and the pantry are a learning experience for students, and a reminder to be thankful for their food supply, Ringler said.

Getting involved

Jaeckin said ag students are especially good helpers, noting “they seem to recognize the need quicker” and “they’re always the first to volunteer.”

The pantry also provides presentations on nutrition programming, involving OSU Extension staff, and free health screening options. It also provides fresh produce giveaways at locations in Huron and Richland counties.

Details:

• If you’d like to vote for the Plymouth Shiloh Food Pantry, visit http://wm8.walmart.com/holidaymakeover/#/ and enter “Ohio” in the green box. You’ll be taken to a page that includes this choice, as well as pantries in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Oxford. Votes can be cast through Dec. 12.

• They accept donations, including donations by check, made payable to Plymouth Shiloh Food Pantry, sent to 29 W. Main Street, Shiloh, OH 44878.

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