Pantry banks on goodwill

The Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank is asking the community to help the area’s less fortunate by donating turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners.

Each year the organization provides holiday dinners with food baskets and meals at food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters throughout Northwest Ohio.

Because of the high unemployment rate, the number of individuals seeking emergency food assistance this year has increased so the shelter said that it is especially important that people donate. Already 14,000 more baskets have been distributed in 2003 than in 2001.

This season, the Food Bank has had a difficult time finding enough turkey donations to distribute to member agencies.

“We are really low on turkeys; normally we receive 800 to 1,000 turkeys each year,” said Julie Chase-Morefield, director of Marketing and Communication at the Food Bank. “Right now we have 70, we are really really running low,” Chase-Morefield said.

She said that they only expect to receive around 300 turkeys this year, and much less donations than in the past years.

The Food Bank has been operating since 1984. They serve over 300 member agencies in an eight county area that includes Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Henry, Wood, Williams, Defiance and Fulton.

Member agencies not only include food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, but non-profit day care centers, non-profit rehabilitation centers, foster care associations and group homes and programs for the elderly and children. Of the 151,000 people receiving assistance last year, just under 62,000 were children.

Various locations in Bowling Green, including the Bowling Green Christian Food Pantry and St. Thomas Moore Parish, receive donations from the Food Bank. Smaller surrounding towns such as Grand Rapids directly receive donations as well.

The Food Bank has seen a great amount of help and donations from the University. Various campus organizations have volunteered time and have held food drives to help the Bank.

“We have had a lot of involvement from Bowling Green,” said Chase-Morefield, “Any kind of donation is always helpful, a lot of students as they clean out their apartment or dorm room at the end of the semester, donate to the Food Bank which is always helpful,” she said.

The Food Bank is the only area organization that is certified by America’s Second Harvest. America’s Second Harvest is the largest hunger-relief organization in the nation. It serves all 50 states, distributing 1.4 billion pounds of food and grocery products annually.These distributions have helped to feed 26 million Americans in the past year.

Those who wish to donate turkeys or nonperishable items can drop off donations at the Food Bank in Toledo at 24 East Woodruff.