Four Years of Funding Keeps Food Pantries Operating

posted 3/30/17 -- In 2013, food stamps were cut and recipients were told to rely on local food pantries. Thanks to CSBG, LCCAA was able to step into the gap.

Families receiving help under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - more commonly known as food stamps) saw their benefits reduced Nov. 1, 2013. The reduction was a family of four will be $36 a month or the equivalent of 24 meals at $1.50 each.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service reports that 80 percent of SNAP recipients exhaust their monthly benefit in only two weeks.

"As they announced the reduction, the USDA advised families to seek help from their local food pantries," Boehnlein said. "While these grants don’t solve all hunger issues in our community, we have tried to help with the spike in demand during the holiday months."

"Across the country, not just in our community, food banks have become more than a temporary solution," said John Powers, manager of the Heritage Presbyterian Church food pantry in 2013, "instead we are a constant coping strategy."

Powers called the food pantry partnership "a miracle" for Heritage Presbyterian. Their checkbook had a balance of only $50 going into the holiday season in 2013.

In 2014, the program was used to help one of its LCCAA’s partners recover from a fire that destroyed its inventory.

First Evangelical Lutheran Church on Washington Avenue operates a food pantry out of its basement. When the church caught fire on Aug. 28, 2014, the first and second floors collapsed into the basement, destroying food meant to feed 1,200 people for the next month. Seven freezers were also destroyed.

LCCAA stepped in with an emergency grant of $2,000 from its Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to help the pantry resupply. Other area pantries and churches also helped.

Each year, new partners are found extending the reach of the program to all parts of Lorain County. Approximately 31,000 people are helped annually, at least 10 percent of whom are vulnerable senior citizens.