By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester’s heritage of lending a helping hand continues during this time of the coronavirus impacting the lives of everyone in the world.
Locally, the reach of that helping hand is extended to the community through the Canal Winchester Human Services Department and its food pantry.
While the department’s program coordinator, Jennifer McDonnell, said their staff has not seen an immediate increase in new clients, they anticipate the upcoming weeks will bring change as many service industry workers, small business owners and employees are put out of work.
“We expect to see the increases primarily in the Food Pantry and Emergency Assistance funds,” said McDonnell. “Senior Transportation has slowed down a bit, as our seniors are taking precautions as they are a high-risk group for contracting the virus. We have limited our transportation services to medical appointments only (no personal trips). In addition, we have cancelled all senior fun trips.”
Although the food pantry’s daily service times remain the same, there is a significant change in a procedure for seniors living at David’s Way located next to the pantry. Every Thursday, pantry services are dedicated to senior clients.
Seniors previously walked to the pantry for service, but now groceries are bagged and taken to their residence.
“The change has been well received,” said McDonnell. “We are in constant communication with local agencies so that we can collaborate on best practices and proactive measures to employ in response to the ever-changing climate concerning the virus. As such, we have made procedural changes in all of our programs, conforming and adjusting to the latest ‘social distancing’ guidelines and recommendations from health officials.”
In addition, McDonnell said the pantry is trying to meet a higher demand for children’s snacks in snack portions—Jello and apple sauce packs, graham crackers, etc.—since children are now at home.
“With the extra precautions everyone is taking these days, we want people to know that we can use any financial donation to purchase those items from Meijer in a bulk order,” said McDonnell.
While donations continue to come in via the mail and through electronic means and food drives are conducted by the community throughout the year, those endeavors will be impacted over the upcoming months.
“A current food drive, sponsored by Carm Smith, the owner of CornerSmiths in downtown Canal, began in February and ends in April,” said McDonnell. “It started off with small groups of people walking to our food pantry every morning, dropping of food and money donations as a part the fourth annual ‘1 For the Cupboard’ 40-day food drive. For precautionary measures, Carm now walks alone to deliver the donations. She has raised over 140 items and $5,455 to date. Every morning, rain or snow, Carm walks from her shop to our building at 80 Covenant Way, Monday through Saturday at 7:30 a.m., delivering food for those in need.”
McDonnell said the pantry would love for people to support Carm and her “1 For the Cupboard” drive. She asked that people driving or walking through town in the morning who see Carm on her daily walk give her a honk or an encouraging shout.
The walk ends on April 11. To contribute to the food pantry, visit www.cwhumanservices.org.
The Canal Winchester Human Services Food Pantry is located at 80 Covenant
Way, Canal Winchester, OH 43110. The phone number is 614-834-4700 (office and fax).