GALION — The economic downturn and job losses that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a toll on many families.
Operators of charitable organizations and food banks said they’ve experienced a surge in the numbers of people seeking assistance. To address families’ needs for food, local municipalities and school districts have partnered with agencies like Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.
Such is the case in Galion, where Galion City Schools, the City of Galion, and Second Harvest have teamed up to help meet the pressing need. Galion Middle School will be the site of a mobile food pantry that is scheduled from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24. It’s the third consecutive month that the pantry will make a stop in Galion.
Kirstie Naumoff, a social worker for Galion City Schools, said many of the families who have visited the mobile pantry are experiencing this type of need for the first time and it presents issues they’ve never dealt with previously.
“For a lot of families that are experiencing job loss, they’re waiting on unemployment benefits and that’s a struggle,” said Naumoff. “We’re seeing that there’s more of a need for access to extra resources, like the food pantry. A lot of people have said they’re not sure exactly what to do. I think a lot of the kids are more aware of the stressers that their families are feeling.”
Naumoff noted that some families are having to make due with fewer resources than what they’re used to and have had to rely on outside sources, like the school district, to meet their needs, especially for food.
“Kids are having a harder time because maybe they are getting only one or two meals, so we’re really glad that we can provide this program for the ones that are in need,” Naumoff said. “It’s one less stresser on their minds.”
Violeta Chinni, family engagement coordinator for Galion City Schools, said the January food pantry served 588 families and provided enough food for 8,559 meals. She said each family receives about 80 pounds of food items, both non-perishable and perishable goods. Fresh meat was made available during the January pantry.
“We’re going to continue doing this once a month through the end of the calendar year,” Chinni said. “This is a way that we can help each other in these trying times. The pantry is accessible for anyone in need, not just people who have children in the school district.”
School district employees and Ohio National Guard troops have volunteered time to operate the two previous pantries in December and January. Chinni said community residents can also volunteer to lend a hand.
Register for the pantry
Residents should pre-register for the event at https://freshtrak.com/register/event/24207.
Those participating are asked to adhere to the for following guidelines:
• Masks are required during registration and while your vehicle is being loaded.
• Please remain in your vehicle.
• Food will only be placed in the trunk of your vehicle.
• Food cannot be placed in the front or back seat area.
• Please ensure trunk space is clean and clear of other items.
• Two households per vehicle.
For information, contact Family Engagement Coordinator Violeta Chinni at 419-468-3134, ext. 13549, or email [email protected]
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