Good Samaritan Hunger Center serves as pop-up pantry

The Good Samaritan Hunger Center has been serving the Akron community since 1982. Founded by Sister Jordan Haddad, a Dominican Sister of Peace, her goal was to ensure that “one day no man, woman or child would go hungry.”

Thirty-five years later, the legacy continues through its Executive Director Michele Smith, coincidentally second cousin of Sister Haddad. The program is a wonderful addition to the Foodbank’s hunger-relief network.

“We continue to do what we do because there are still people who are hungry in our community,” explained Michele. “I don’t want people to have to choose between feeding their family and paying their rent.”

The Good Samaritan Hunger Center has evolved its programming to reflect the community’s needs. It functions as a pop-up pantry, taking its services to communities that need it most, meeting people where they are. The last three Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of each month, the Good Samaritan administers its grocery bag program in North Hill, Summit Lake, and the Akron Urban League. Averaging 170 bags per week, it consists of a three-day food supply and includes meat, fresh produce and homemade soup.

Relatively new to Good Samaritan’s programming is its backpack program with Findley Community Learning Center. When Michele heard Foodbank President & CEO Dan Flowers speak at an event last spring, she learned that more than 1 in 5 children in our service area struggles with hunger.

“When I heard him say that, not only did it break my heart, but it stuck with me. I keep it in mind for everything we do here,” she said.

Michele and a group of volunteers meet each Wednesday to assemble 220 backpacks filled with two breakfasts, lunches and snacks for the weekend. In many cases, the students served by this program rely heavily on the food served in school, and therefore may go hungry during the weekend.