Members of Inspirational Baptist Church and other volunteers load cars with boxes of food at the church in Forest Park. Herald photo

Members of Inspirational Baptist Church and other volunteers load cars with boxes of food at the church in Forest Park. Herald photo

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

“Some families are so desperate for food, they come through the line crying,” aid Bishop Victor Couzens, pastor of Inspirational Baptist Church in talking about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Family Food Program that is centered in the Cincinnati area at the church.

Church members and other volunteers distribute boxes of dairy and produce to about 800 families per every Tuesday of the week from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with some people coming as far as Middletown. One woman we talked to rode a bus in from Delhi in East Cincinnati to get her weekly ration.

With more people sick, out of work or unable to get to the grocery store due to the COVID pandemic, churches and other charities throughout the city are helping keep food on the table of affected families.

Eighteen-wheeler trucks roar in to Inspirational Baptist’s parking lot from the regional distribution center in Cleveland around 9 to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, with cars already lined up on Sebring Drive to Waycross Avenue waiting for the food. First served are pickup or SUV drivers who take some of the boxes to their churches for distribution to needy families. Then the volunteers dig into the mini-mountains of food boxes as they load cars driving through the line.

The church applied to be the local distribution center when officials heard about it, Couzens said. The food boxes began arriving early in June, and they should keep coming until the first of the year depending on federal funding, he added. Other churches have been invited to partner in the program.

The previous week, the distribution was in Winton Terrace, but has since moved back to Inspirational Baptist.

Volunteers have included local companies that have helped with loading equipment such as Sunbelt Rentals, other contractors, members of the Ohio National Guard, Men in Suits and Women in Heels. Auto dealer Jake Sweeney provides drivers and cars to deliver some of the boxes to homebound seniors.

Voter registration is conducted at the site, with more than 500 people registering thus far. The Center for Closing the Health Gap has passed out face masks, and the Cincinnati Health Department provides information about protection from COVID-19.

“We are grateful to be a part of the program,” said Couzens.

Some of the other churches involved in food distribution days are New Prospect Baptist Church, 1580 Summit Road in Roselawn, which distributes meals prepared by different local caterers beginning at 2 p.m. Sundays. The food program goes into October.

Kennedy Heights Presbyterian Church at 6312 Kennedy Avenue in kennedy Heights provides a variety of food and household items. Call 631-1114 for information.

You also can visit the Adventist Outreach Food Pantry at 725 Whittier St. in Avondale. The pantry is open Mondays and Wednesdays the second, third, and fourth weeks of each month. In August, the dates are 17, 19, 24 and 26. Hours are from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m..

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