Volunteers provide area residents with food items during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo by Thomas Rohrer
By Thomas Rohrer
In 1952 the Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church started its first food pantry. Today, 68 years later, the pantry at 725 Whittier St. in Avondale (near MLK Drive and Reading Road) has become an important asset to Avondale and the surrounding communities.
The pantry moved to Whittier Street about 4 years ago. The First Unitarian Church in Avondale is and has been a major partner for many years. These two churches (which are the financial mainstays of the pantry) total only about 875 members. The number of clients the pantry serves has continued to grow over the years and today numbers 1,400 to 1,600 households with more than 3,000 members. Last year it distributed over 350,000 pounds of food.
Richard Foster is the pantry director, and Isaac Johnson is the operations manager. Together, with a staff of about 20 volunteers, the pantry provides a crucial community service.
The pantry currently operates on an honor system. During the COVID-19 crisis anyone in need of food assistance can visit the pantry to get help meeting their needs. there are no forms to fill out, identity cards required or proof of Avondale residency necessary. Clients simply drive up, state the number of their household members and have a food parcel placed in the trunk of their car. Clients are provided a variety of frozen meats, vegetables and shelf stable foods.
Representatives of other organizations come to the pantry on occasion to provide a variety of other services that clients might benefit from. These include Medicare/Medicaid information, health screenings, and voter registration. A diaper bank service for infants is currently in the planning stages.
In the future the pantry hopes to expand the number and frequency of services offered to clients to break the cycle of poverty many are trapped in.
For the last 4 to 5 years, the pantry has experienced significant operating budget deficits. These deficits are being offset by funds from a Shiloh Church Pantry Bequest Fund, which is being rapidly depleted. Anyone who wants to support this important community organization can send a donation to Adventist Outreach Ministry Pantry, 725 Whittier St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45219, Attn: Mr. Semue Chapman – Treasurer.
The pantry is open the second, third, and fourth weeks of the mont on Monday and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Clients are allowed to stop by for food four times each month, which would supply 30% or more of their household’s monthly food needs.