A Sharon Township food pantry has expanded to provide more help for those in need.
The Helping Hands Food Pantry, which previously shared space at Northside Christian Church with other ministries since its inception in 2010, moved to its own area at the church with more than four times the space.
The pantry, 7615 Ridge Road, serves more than 230 people in 50 families monthly, pantry coordinator Lori Scobee said.
Pickup days are the third Thursday of each month, between 5 and 7 p.m.
“It’s my favorite night of the month,” Scobee said.
“I’m exhausted when I get home, but it’s such a great exhaustion.”
She said the pantry sees the same families coming back each month — and that’s exactly what she wants.
“We’re trying to make this a very personal experience,” she said. “No one wants to go to Giant Eagle and have someone just bring them a box of food. It’s almost insulting.”
Instead, Helping Hands labels itself as a “choice pantry,” where families can pick what they want from a variety of options with guidance from volunteers.
That way, she said no food goes to waste and families can get to know the pantry volunteers.
“We hope it helps people maintain their dignity,” Scobee said. “Our goal is to make it a good experience for people.”
She said being a choice pantry also helps them know what to order more of — like cereal, boxed meals and peanut butter.
Helping Hands is an agency of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. Most of the food the pantry offers comes from the foodbank at discounted prices.
Scobee said the pantry accepts donations, but prefers monetary contributions so it can benefit from the discounted foodbank prices.
Jeff Stroup, a volunteer, said many people don’t realize the effect food pantries have on the county.
“Most people think of Medina County as this really affluent place,” Stroup said, “but it has a high number of people just barely above the limit for aid from many agencies.”
Statistics on the growing number of Medina County residents receiving food stamps supports Stroup’s statement.
The number of recipients has more than tripled from 3,600 in 2003 to almost 12,000 in 2012, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
To offer a donation or to become a volunteer, visit the church or contact Stroup at (330) 813-2109.
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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