Food Truck Trend Extends to Pantries

Food trucks are trendy attractions at street festivals and special events.  But did you know that one United Way agency is using a food truck to bring nutrition to the outlying areas of Logan County?
The Second Harvest Food Bank Mobile Pantry is literally a food pantry on wheels, setting up shop at least six times a month to distribute groceries so no one goes hungry.  Last year, Second Harvest Food Bank provided over 627,500 pounds of food in Logan County, equating to more than half a million meals!
Meals for people like Dick Davis of DeGraff, a retired ODOT employee who has endured 13 surgeries on his right leg.  
"The doctor bills started rolling in and things got a little tough," Davis admits.  "I kind of felt guilty at first, because you work, you've got a retirement, and you think you'd be able to afford things.  But you get a little behind.  You're on a fixed income.  And then this comes along and is a life-saver.  You go to the grocery store and you spend anywhere from $150 to $200.  Out here, you can get about that same amount."
Davis was one of 70 recipients in line this day at DeGraff Recreational Park.  People of all ages come with boxes and wagons in tow, ready to take home a supply of meats, fruits, vegetables, and grains that can last up to a week.  Juices and desserts may also be included, depending upon what's been donated.  Children comprise 36 percent of Second Harvest's recipients, while seniors age 60 and over make up another 21 percent.
"I've got grandkids who are always at my house, and they come over and want to eat," said Patty Webb of Russells Point.  As she speaks, 3-year old Katy is holding her hand in line, and another granddaughter will join them after school.  "I'm really grateful.  It helps a lot."    
Income eligibility follows federal guidelines, meaning a household of four can make $50,199 a year and still receive help at least once a week.  Recipients must be Logan County residents and need simply arrive at a scheduled distribution with ID and proof of residency, such as a utility bill.
One of the largest monthly distributions occurs in the Kroger parking lot in Bellefontaine.  Recently, as the last person walked away, a gentleman in a truck pulled up and asked what was going on.  The Mobile Pantry coordinator explained what the mobile pantry was for an asked if he would like to go through the line.  He was very hesitant and said he wasn't sure if he qualified.  He then told the staff that he was a veteran and living on limited income.  Staff gathered his information and when the screen popped up, he could see he qualified.  He remained hesitant and said he only wanted to take what he would actually eat.  Staff assured him that was fine and that it was OK to come back.  Staff handed him a schedule and explained they would be at the Bellefontaine site on the first Monday of each month.  He was absolutely grateful and was excited to see all of the produce.  That particular day, they were passing out cabbage, corn, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes.  He returns occasionally, bringing friends with him on visits and helps spread the word about the service.
Your United Way gift helps make the distributions possible, as a $35,000 allocation this year combines with in-kind food donations totalling more than $100,000 for the Mobile Pantry.
CAPTION:  Bobbi Allen, Pastor of Buckeye Gospel Barn, and Debrah Riefstahl of Quincy have been volunteering with the Second Harvest Food Bank Mobile Pantry distributions for almost a decade.  Allen was influential in bringing them to the DeGraff and Quincy areas in 2010 and now organizes two a month in addition to her congregation’s own pantry.  “I found out about the food trucks and it inspired me to help as many people as we can,” said Allen.