Agencies work to keep shelves stocked

The West Ohio Food Bank opened at noon Wednesday, after being closed Monday and Tuesday due to the treacherous weather and road conditions.

The West Ohio Food Bank is a nonprofit service organization with the dedication of alleviating hunger in our area. They are the food bank that provides food to more than 170 food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens throughout the 11 counties in Western Ohio.

CEO of the West Ohio Food Bank, Gary Bright, said the weather and roads were just too dangerous to have the staff and drivers come in.

“The good majority of our counties are under level twos or threes up until yesterday, and still on level twos today,” he said. “Basically it was just a safety concern for both our member agency staff trying to come in to pick up food and for our own staff and drivers, everybody.”

Bright said they really work to keep their agencies informed when closures like these have to happen. He mentioned that most of the member agencies they work with were also closed during this time.

“I just ask that they (member agencies) contact us and let us know what their needs are,” he said. “I really don’t know yet at this point if some of them are going to maybe be open an extra day, or how they are going to respond, or if they’ll just go back to their regular schedule and try to have a little bit more food available on their regular days."

“When they get back they’ll have to asses the needs and just let us know what those needs are and we’ll definitely work with them on that.”

One of the agencies the West Ohio Food Bank works with is, Agape Ministries, INC, of St. Marys, and Executive Director, Kathy Bayless said they received their delivery from the food bank on Thursday morning, Jan. 2, so they’ve got inventory and are ready to provide for everyone in need.

“We think tomorrow afternoon is to result in a lot of people that are going to need a lot of food,” Bayless said. “We’ve brought on extra volunteers, we’ve got extra people available, we’ve got extra carts available to go through the little choice pantry, I mean we’re gearing up. If we don’t need them that’s great, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we are going to have a huge need tomorrow.”

The Lima Area Agency on Aging’s food delivery programs also saw a halt in action Monday. Meal Program Coordinator, Connie Knippen said one thing they have been doing to help the elderly maintain food in their homes is by delivering something called a shelf stable meal.

“We actually delivered them during the month of December this year, and that is a box that consists of enough food for five meals,” Knippen said. “It might be things like powdered milk, crackers, cookies that have a long shelf life, cans of pork and beans or SpaghettiOs, cereal; things that can sit on your shelf for a long time and not go bad.”

Those shelf stable meals are intended for days like Monday when Meals on Wheels or other food programs cannot physically get the elderly their food.

“They should go to that shelf meal box and pick out something that they would be able to make even if they had no power to heat it up, that it would be ok to eat at room temperature,” Knippen said.

For the full story, see the Jan. 9 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News.