Volunteer Mylene Mendoza checks expiration dates on canned goods for clients at the Toledo Seagate Food Bank.
Anybody fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with what’s stocked at food banks or the pantries they supply should know that those shelves have more than canned goods, bread, milk, and eggs.
What’s available is much the same as what’s in a grocery store, including some meats and fresh fruits and vegetables.
And though many happily show kindness this time of year, food bank operators say hunger is year-round.
“People are generous during the holiday season, but we need food all year-round,” said Laurie Cohen of the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank on East Woodruff Avenue. “We’ve had over 7 million pounds [of food] come in this year, but the need is greater and greater, as more people are on food stamps, more people are underemployed, and have fallen on hard times for whatever reason.”
Last year, the food bank distributed more than 6 million pounds to 300 member agencies it serves in Lucas, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams, and Wood counties.
The agency is currently in its harvest food drive for 80,000 meals.
Staff member Delores Reyes packs bags of meat donated by Kroger at the Toledo Seagate Food Bank.
The Toledo Seagate Food Bank on High Street also expects its numbers to be up. Aggie Alt, community awareness director, said 6.5 million pounds of food were distributed in the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. So far this fiscal year, more than 776,000 pounds of food have been distributed to 450 organizations. The food bank also distributes to churches, the Cherry Street Mission, senior centers, and veterans who have vouchers.
“With our community partners, we service about 48,000 people monthly,” Ms. Alt said.
Added Mindy Rapp, operations manager at Seagate food bank, “We get a lot of food in and we distribute a lot of food.”
Food comes from several sources, including government programs. Also, volunteers glean such items as squash from farms, while other food comes from suppliers, individuals, and groups.
To make donations: Monetary donations are accepted at the food banks, through U.S. mail, or at their Web sites: theseagatefoodbank.org or toledofoodbank.org. Donors can earmark exactly where they want their donations applied.
Both food banks will supply and pick up boxes to hold collections of food for individuals and groups that sponsor food drives. Also, anyone can take unopened and unexpired food to a food bank.
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