Youth Services Partners with Food Bank

posted 9/22/20 -- Lorain County Community Action Agency will partner with the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio and Lorain County Workforce Development to keep mobile food pantries running throughout Lorain County.

“Since the COVID-19 crisis hit, demand for food assistance has skyrocketed,” said Julie Chase-Morefield, Second Harvest’s President and CEO.

At the start of the pandemic, the Ohio National Guard was deployed to assist at Second Harvest. Starting September 30, the number of soldiers on duty at Second Harvest will be reduced to 16.

“Without additional help, it will be difficult to continue the expanded programs to reach as many community members as possible who need help with food,” Chase-Morefield said.

LCCAA President and CEO Jackie Boehnlein suggested a partnership between her LCCAA’s Youth Services Program and Second Harvest. Youth Services partners with OhioMeansJobs Lorain County and the Lorain County Workforce Development Agency to provide work experience in the form of community service and at the LCCAA Bike Shop. The work experience component has been on hold with all the new considerations around COVID-19. Boehnlein mobilized this group to step in to help out at Second Harvest.

“Workplace safety is a big consideration,” she said. “We worked through those issues and put a solid plan in place. Our youth need the work and community need is tremendous. We think this is a perfect way to meet both needs.”

The partnership will hire 20 youth, ages 18 to 24, and sign ups have already begun in earnest. Each youth will work 26 hours a week at $10 an hour for the six month program. Youth can apply by contacting OhioMeansJobs at 440-324-5244 or clicking here. In addition to on-the-job training, the youth will receive mentoring focusing on soft skills that impact long-term employability.

LCCAA will also provide transportation. The agency just acquired a second multi-passenger van with funds from the CARES Act. An AmeriCorps member, hired in partnership with Horizons, will also become part of the supervising team for the youth. The county may supply a third vehicle, Boehnlein added.

“We’re grateful for everyone who stepped in to make this happen quickly,” Chase-Morefield said. “Every drive-thru mobile pantries serves 400 to 700 families so help is coming at a critical time with the cold weather and holidays approaching.”

“This is one of those times that demonstrates how continually building relationships allow us to adapt quickly,” Boehnlein said.

Earlier this summer, Boehnlein presented a check for $20,000 to Second Harvest’s Director of External Affairs, Susan Bortasch. The funding is from LCCAA’s CARES Act allocation under the Community Services Block Grant. LCCAA is using additional CARES funding to supply local pantries through Second Harvest.