Local food pantry brings relief during holidays

Jessica Spweike and Jessica Spweike

Amidst holiday shopping and festivities, some residents in Bowling Green go to the Bowling Green Christian Food Pantry to shop for something else: food for their families.

Established in 1984 as a non-profit organization, the BGCFP manages roughly 85-90 households a month.

Shirley Woessner, the director of the BGCFP, said those households added up to 328 people.

Though the BGCFP in a non-profit organization, they have a budget given to them by their Board of Trustees, but they rely heavily upon funds and supplies from donations.

Places like churches, restaurants, some grocery stores and individuals are where the BGCFP get most of their donations from.

Donations increase during the holiday season and the food pantry put together Thanksgiving baskets for families in need.

“(Families of) four or less get one bag, and families of five or more get two bags,” said Woessner. “Subsequently, we put together 313 bags of food and all but maybe 15 or 20 bags was gone.”

The baskets consisted of a different food items including turkeys and hams.

Woessner said Family Video donated 40 turkeys, as they do every year.

Joanne Tennison, a volunteer at the food pantry and secretary the pantry’s Board of Trustees, said clients are welcome to shop at the pantry any time it is open, not just for special occasions.

“(Clients) can come every three months to shop and they get food in proportion to the number (of people) in their family, but they get a fair amount of groceries,” said Tennison.

“We have a lot of people come in and they’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I was going to get this much food,’” said Woessner.

The pantry has three room full of items and provides all types of food products from dried goods to frozen items to milk and eggs.

The BGCFP also has a selection of personal hygiene items that come solely from donations as the pantry cannot use money from its budget on any item food stamps would not purchase.

“We have volunteers that will go out … once a month and spend 75 to 100 dollars and buy bars of soap, shampoo, toothpaste,” said Woessner. “I have an Avon lady that I buy cases of deodorant (from).”

Only with the support of their volunteers and donations is the pantry able to meet the needs of their clients for these items.

The BGCFP also works with other food banks and food pantries and Woessner said they visit the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank once a week.

Bernice Tony, the agency relations specialist at TWOFB, explained the BGCFP comes to the food bank for a variety of items, often items they do not have.

Through the cooperation of these two, and other, organizations, BGCFP is able to maintain their supplies, as well as extras to fill their warehouse behind the main rooms.

“I think it’s a good program,” said Tony. “The clients enjoy the atmosphere that’s there.”

The success of the pantry wouldn’t have been possible without the volunteers, said Woessner.

“Volunteerism is what keeps it going,” she said.

All the work is worth it for Woessner and Tennison just to “see the look on people’s faces” when they find food and support from the BGCFP.