Hunger Pangs. "Food Insecurity" impacts 6,680 Logan County residents

ABOVE:  Boy Scout Matthew Schuster serves dinner to the Jenkins family at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Bellefontaine.  The program is one of 11 locally supported pantries or soup kitchens supported by your United Way gift.

Tacos.  Pizza.  Hamburger French-fry casserole.  

“They enjoy my cooking,” says Jennifer Hanley.  The cook at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Bellefontaine takes pride in preparing meals for her new extended family.  “I’ve got a lot of good recipes coming up that I know they’re going to love.”

Unfortunately, it’s more than the menu that keeps Bellefontaine resident Mike Jenkins and his family coming back.  Jenkins, who works part-time for a pest control business, brings his wife and two daughters here two or three times a week for the dinner served on weekdays between 4:30 and 6:00 p.m.   His wife Reba is visually impaired and almost blind, making it difficult for her to find work. So they, and their four-year and 16-month old daughters join them for the free meals.       

“This helps us stretch the food out all week,” Jenkins said.  “It helps us to get a good, nutritious diet.”

The Jenkins’s are four of 6,680 Logan County residents identified as “food insecure” in a recent report released by Feeding America, a nationwide network of hunger relief organizations that includes Second Harvest Food Bank, a United Way funded program.  That means 14.6% of Logan County residents neighbors do not have consistent access to adequate food because of a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.  The lack of consistency is such that families like the Jenkins rely on pantries and soup kitchens beyond emergency needs to sustain their monthly shortfalls in food.

It’s not just young families.  Senior citizens are a growing segment of the population recurrently using food pantries and soup kitchens.  

“They are so limited on income,” said Evelyn Allen, Manager at Our Daily Bread.  “They really do not make enough.  Many are making $600 a month on social security and getting only $16 to $50 for food stamps.  That’s not going to last a whole month.”   

“The face of hunger in Logan County is real and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes,” said Kim Collum, Director of Lutheran Community Services.  “We have elderly clients who receive food so they can use their available money for needed medicine, we have single parent families that have trouble making ends meet, we have single adults who for no fault of their own may have health issues and have used all of their savings.  The issues are many and they are real!”

Between 125 and 150 people frequent Our Daily Bread on a daily basis.  Increased United Way funding has allowed the soup kitchen to expand its service to five days a week.  In fact, food insecurity is United Way’s top-funded need, with more than $72,000 being split between Our Daily Bread and the 10 local pantries served by Second Harvest, a program of Catholic Charities.  

“The one way to help those in need is to be there to lend a hand, without judgment,” said Collum.  “This problem will not go away.  But with caring individuals and groups we can certainly make it an easier road to travel.  Our belief is that we are all in this community.  Let’s work together to create a better environment in which to live and prosper.”

It’s the mission of United Way of Logan County to facilitate successful agency partnerships that enable a safe, healthy, and caring community.  Logan County is an extraordinary community that offers a high quality of life for all citizens through the collective and collaborative action among its residents.  More than just a fundraiser, United Way has been a valued community partner since it was established locally in 1954, collaborating with businesses, non-profits, government, and civic organizations to help meet the social service needs of the community.  

For more information, call us at (937) 592-2886.

For a complete directory of Logan County food pantries and soup kitchens supported by United Way, click here.