June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Feeding Medina County Initiative outgrows its shared space

MEDINA — Sandy Calvert’s garage is filled with containers of food, but not to feed her family.

Because of limited space at the Feeding Medina County Initiative food pantry, Calvert, director of the organization, has resorted to using her Lafayette Township home to store donations while new pantry space is sought.

Feeding Medina County Initiative's food pantry at the National Guard Armory in Medina is overflowing with donations. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY MICHELLE SPREHE)

An increase in food donations during the holidays is overloading the pantry, which is housed at the National Guard Armory.

The pantry is in the process of becoming an independent nonprofit agency, County Commissioner Pat Geissman said. The Feeding Medina County Initiative was a program under Cornerstone Wellness Center until it split Dec. 1.

“We discovered the best thing for us to do was not even to be under someone else’s 501(c)3,” Geissman said.

The initiative applied Nov. 28 to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and until the application is approved, the program is temporarily under the 501(c)3 qualification of Medina County United Way, Geissman said.

The initiative rents space in the armory for $100 a month, which is covered by donations and fundraising, Geissman said. When Initiative leaves the armory, Cornerstone will remain and continue to pay $100 a month, she added.

Cornerstone only uses a few shelves and freezers and doesn’t necessarily need more space because its programs do not serve as many people as Initiative, Cornerstone director Cindy McQuown said.

Initiative has inquired about a new pantry location in Medina, Geissman said. She would not reveal the location, but said it is bigger than the food pantry needs and she is working to find another organization to share the space.

The new space also will be paid for with donations and fundraising, she said.

“We’re just looking at trying to find something that won’t cost a lot of money because we’re taking donations for food. I don’t want to have to take donations for all this other stuff,” Geissman said. “That’s why I’m looking for someone else to share the space.”

The initiative is seeking a new pantry location not only for more space, but also for more accessibility.

The pantry in the armory is not accessible on weekends or after 4 p.m., Calvert said, which makes it hard to drop off goods from food drives.

Two weeks ago, a large donation of carrots was given to the Initiative, which would have been distributed to area food pantries if they were not already overloaded with holiday donations.

“They couldn’t take it and we couldn’t get in over the weekend, so the carrots all rotted,” Calvert said. “Several hundred pounds of carrots had to be pitched.”

She said that was the first time something like that had happened.

“It’s indicative of what we’re facing because we need accessibility as much as we need space,” Calvert said.

“The armory has been great to us in the last two years, but it does have its shortfalls and accessibility is one of them,” she said.

Although the donations have overwhelmed the pantry at the armory, it shows how much the program has grown and the community has become aware of the need for food, Geissman said.

“Food comes in for the holidays and people feel good that they are doing their part and then they forget about it,” Geissman said.

“But I just feel very confident that the awareness that has been brought to their attention will continue,” she said.

Contact Michelle Sprehe at (330) 721-4048 or msprehe@medina-gazette.com.