May 26, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Task force looks to establish county food pantry

Allison Wood | The Gazette

MEDINA — Due to lack of refrigeration space in Medina County, more than 1,000 pounds of leftover frozen food from the Sandridge Food Corp. is sent weekly to the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank for distribution.

County Commissioner Pat Geissman said she would like to see this food stay local and helped establish a task force to create a centralized food pantry in the county.

She said she became aware of Sandridge’s donations after visiting the company with members of the Economic Development Corporation in May as part of a business outreach program.

Sandridge’s products, which all must be refrigerated or frozen, cannot be accepted by local pantries due to the large amount of space required to store them.

“There’s an extensive need in this county to keep food here,” Geissman said.

The task force, which includes members of several nonprofit and senior citizen organizations in the county, will meet again early next month to discuss its options.

“This is going to proceed faster than I thought due to the help of Sandridge,” Geissman said.

Purchasing items from a distributor such as the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank is encouraged because the food bank offers large discounts to local pantries, said Julie King, executive director of the United Way of Medina County.

The Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank provides food for pantries in eight counties.

Over the last year, the local United Way chapter conducted surveys of the county’s 27 food pantries and asked about where their food came from and when they are open.

“Most pantries are faith-based and have a core of one or two volunteers,” King said. “They also have very limited hours.”

She also found none of the pantries have large freezers or refrigerators, so they would not be able to accept large corporate donations from places such as Sandridge.

The United Way is in the process of creating a map of all the county’s food pantries that can be given to anyone looking for help, King said.

Currently, anyone interested in finding a food pantry can use the county’s 211 information service, she said.

Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or