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Published: Wednesday, 5/12/2004

Perrysburg pantry hungry for a home

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

As the Perrysburg Christians United food pantry has tried to keep up with the growing needs of northern Wood County residents, it has developed a need of its own: a permanent home.

The food pantry, staffed by more than 60 volunteers from 11 Perrysburg churches, provides groceries for Wood County residents in need who live north of State Rt. 582. Last year, the organization served about 250 families, food pantry coordinator Carolyn Isch said.

"We have had a tremendous increase in need over the past two or three years," Ms. Isch said. "More and more of our clients are coming more often."

The group has been able to keep up with increasing demands for food by getting donations from church members and area schools. But the food pantry does not have its own building, so volunteers must drive all over town to collect the donations.

Volunteers deliver the donations to two garages donated by local residents. At the garages, food pantry workers sort the food and put it in bags for distribution, but the space is getting too small to hold all the food that must be packaged.

"We're just bursting at the seams," Ms. Isch said. "There's not enough room to sort the food inside the garages, so we do it outside. If it rains, we're really in a pickle."

Volunteers load the bags into cars and drive the food to Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg, where it is distributed Mondays and Fridays. Each month, the food pantry gives away about 300 bags of groceries.

Robert Steinecker, head of Perrysburg Christians United, said the amount of groceries the food pantry gave out last year increased by 50 percent from the 2002 total.

Meeting the community's increasing needs has put a strain on the food pantry volunteers. Ms. Isch said food pantry leaders hope a new facility will ease the burden on volunteers, because they will not have to load and unload so many groceries.

"It's hard work moving all those groceries," she said. "If we have to stay in the quarters where we are, we're going to lose volunteers."

Grace United Methodist Church of Perrysburg has told the food pantry it can build a facility on church grounds, Mr. Steinbecker said. The food pantry hopes to raise about $20,000 from area residents to fund construction of a simple barn-like building to house the group. The organization already has collected $1,000.

"We're hoping that at this building, we can receive the goods, sort the goods, bag the goods, and distribute the goods all from the same place," Mr. Steinbecker said. "We hope that we'll get assistance from the local community."

Contact Rachel Zinn at:

rzinn@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055


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