GALION — Galion City Schools is now a School Pantry Partner with the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio for 2021.
This partnership was made possible thanks to Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding from the City of Galion, totaling $32,205. This CARES Act funding, which is a reimbursement for previous mobile food pantry events in Galion, was approved for food and nutrition programs during the pandemic.
“Galion City Schools is the first official school pantry program we have been able to establish in Crawford County and we look forward to being able to serve the families in the community,” Susan Bartosch, Second Harvest Director of External Affairs, said. “This will serve to help the students, their families, and the citizens of Galion as we all try to navigate through these difficult times.”
Second Harvest secures and distributes over 9.5 million pounds of food and grocery products annually; and works in partnership with 110 member agencies and 8 school districts including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, School Pantries, after-school programs, Backpack Programs, Kids Cafes, Mobile Produce Pantries and Mobile Pantries.
“It was very exciting to have Mayor O’Leary and representatives from Second Harvest approach us about becoming a School Pantry Partner,” Galion Superintendent Jennifer Allerding said. “This is a wonderful example of collaboration in the Galion community that will benefit families and students in our district and beyond.”
The partnership between the schools and Second Harvest means that the mobile food pantry events in the coming months will be held on the Galion City Schools campus. It also means that volunteers will be needed to assist staff from Second Harvest and soldiers from the Ohio National Guard.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our district to partner with Second Harvest in their efforts to assist families who struggle with food insecurity,” Galion Family Engagement Coordinator Violeta Chinni said. “Our goal is to have each of these events staffed with district volunteers, however, if we need additional volunteers, we will communicate with our community through the district website and social media.”
The December 2020 mobile food pantry event saw more than 1,500 people served, with nearly 6,900 meals provided to over 500 families. The event saw 12 Ohio National Guard soldiers, 2 Second Harvest staff members, and 17 Galion City Schools volunteers participating in the event.
“This is such an incredible benefit to our students, families, and the community because families will have an opportunity each month to pre-register and receive free boxes of food, including perishable and non-perishable items, fresh produce, eggs, and frozen meats,” Galion School Social Worker Kirstie Naumoff sad. “Pre-registration is encouraged but not required, and each family will receive 70 to 80 pounds of food because income guidelines have been suspended due to the pandemic.”
Volunteer roles during a mobile food pantry event include registration, food distribution and loading, stocking and restocking, and traffic control. The commitment for volunteers is 2 to 3 hours once per month, and training and safety guidelines are provided the day of the food pantry.
“The trust already established between the volunteer coordinator, volunteers, the Superintendent and Board members with our on-site team points to a very successful endeavor,” Bartosch said. “As we continue to roll out this program, there will be adjustments along the way and it really takes a team with the same goal in mind. We are gratified and excited to continue this partnership.”
The January mobile food pantry will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on the Galion City Schools campus on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Families are encouraged to pre-register for the event by visiting this link – https://freshtrak.com/register/event/24206.
Additional details, including a route for the day of the event and volunteer information, will be shared on the Galion City Schools Facebook page.