The Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard in Portage County has served families in the Garfield Local School District for more than a decade. But with inflation and increased grocery and fuel prices, they are helping feed more families than ever before.
“There has been a pretty stark increase in need across the district,” said Ted Lysiak, president of the program and superintendent of Garfield Local Schools.
Each month, 70 families receive groceries and hygiene products like shampoo and deodorant through their drive-thru food pantry. More than 40 households with transportation barriers receive groceries delivered directly to their homes through their delivery program. And their snack pack program discreetly provides more than 100 students with a bag of yummy, healthy snack foods every month.
“I think we're really fortunate to have the partnership with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank,” Lysiak said. “We couldn't do this work without them.”
They also could not do this work without the support of their generous community. Local donors help sustain their fuel costs to deliver food to people in need, 4-H partnerships help acquire two pigs every year so families can have fresh meat around the holidays, and local farmers donate eggs and fresh fruit.
And, of course, volunteers help make everything run smoothly. When families visit the pantry, they know a kind volunteer will assist them. Volunteers like Susan make sure every family has a pleasant experience. Multiple times per week, Susan volunteers with the pantry because she has experienced hunger firsthand.
"I started volunteering because when my first husband passed away, I was able to receive help when my children were younger. This is a way for me to give back now. I know the need out there, having been on both sides,” said Susan.
Because of the community’s support, families like Tammy's can receive the groceries they need to live healthy lives. Tammy is a mom of three. A few years ago, her husband unexpectedly got sick and accumulated a number of medical bills they’re trying to pay off. When she needs a little extra help with groceries, she visits the food pantry.
“I was pregnant, and my husband was in the hospital. Everything just snowballed, and we needed help.”
With the support of the community and the Foodbank, The Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard can support families when they’re in need.