CW Rotary Club plants garden to help food pantry
The Canal Winchester Rotary Club is taking the concept of planting a row for the needy to new heights with a pair of community garden plots serving as a source of fresh vegetables for the Canal Winchester Food Pantry.
"We've asked people to donate any excess vegetables they've grown to the food pantry," said Human Services Coordinator Penny Miller. "The Rotary Club approached me in the spring and said if the city gave them a plot, they'd plant it for the food pantry. I contacted Jerry Dill and he donated flats of vegetables including okra, peppers, tomatoes and onions that were planted in the community garden for the pantry. As vegetables become ready, they are bagged and brought to the pantry for distribution."
With fresh food contributions from home growers, the Rotary Club garden and the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, food pantry clients can receive produce as often as possible by appointment.
"Fresh produce is always more healthy than canned," said Miller, "and we have a pretty good variety. It's been very nice to offer fresh produce. Although it's been available in the past, we've never been able to take advantage of Mid-Ohio (produce) before, but we were able to purchase a commercial refrigerator for fresh produce a few weeks ago."
Rotary Club garden liaison Rhonda Romano, who co-chairs the committee with her husband, Marc, said she is interested in sustainable farming and knew the food pantry was suffering.
With their own garden plot in the community garden, the Romano's were well aware of one of the biggest hurdles in growing vegetables in the city's community garden-no running water.
"It's a challenge," said Romano. "We had to bring in water and this has been a brutal summer with the heat, but we're growing vegetables. We had a few people go out and plant at the beginning of the season and we started taking things to the food pantry three to four weeks ago. Local hunger is one of the important projects the (Rotary) club has taken on. Families need fresh produce and we saw the garden as one way to address hunger."
Brent Foley, Rotary Club public relations chairman, said there were students in the Canal Winchester school district observed taking their school lunches home because there was not enough food for the weekend.
"We saw the need," said Foley. "With the economy, there are a lot more people dependent on the food bank and hunger issues are definitely part of the whole Rotary International mission."
Van donated to food pantry
With fresh food storage problems alleviated and supplies coming in on a regular basis, transport of food from various sources- including the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and Community Action-will no longer be reliant on personal vehicles when the food pantry takes delivery of a cargo van donated by Jeff Wyler Chevrolet.
Miller said there are many opportunities to obtain items for the pantry, but most are dependent on pick-up, which was problematic for the local operation. Previously, boxes were loaded into car trunks and backseats or the bed of a truck or van on loan for the afternoon.
"Having a vehicle will allow us the opportunity for free and cheap food," said Miller. "We are so excited about Jeff Wyler's contribution and not having to use our private vehicles anymore."
The Canal Winchester Food Pantry, 360 W. Waterloo St., is a "Choice" pantry. Clients are accompanied into the pantry to select items from the available inventory based on their size of family for a maximum three-day supply of food per visit.
Appointments are required and must be made at least 24 hours in advance through the voice mail system at (614) 464-6811. Walk-in service is not permitted. Appointments may be made up to two times each month and only one food order will be given per address. Eligible clients are those living in qualified areas of the 43110 zip code. Normal operating hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1-3 p.m.