OBERLIN — City officials and community members witnessed the ribbon-cutting for the new food pantry at the Neighborhood Alliance Senior Enrichment Services of Oberlin.
Oberlin City Manager Rob Hillard congratulated the alliance for its new pantry, which he said is the key to the better outreach in the community and Lorain County.
“The city can do so much, and our partnerships make us so much bigger and better together,” he said.
Alicia Foss, president and CEO of Neighborhood Alliance at 90 E. College St., said the pantry will do a lot of good for local seniors. The idea for the pantry started when more and more seniors who visited the location kept privately asking for food to take home, Foss said. At first they put a “blessing box” outside the building to have free food available, but it kept getting cleaned out. That convinced her there was a need for a fully-realized food bank. The problem is called food insecurity, or the lack of available, affordable and nutritious food.
“Senior food insecurity is one of the biggest issues that we see in our communities right now,” she said.
According to the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, 19.5 percent of all Ohioans more than 50 years old with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level are food insecure. Foss said many seniors have to choose between buying food or medication.
This program is for more mobile and independent seniors facing financial struggles. The program is an extension of the alliance’s meal delivery program, which takes hot meals to seniors who are homebound.
The pantry will be open 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays to anyone in need, but it has a special focus on senior citizens.
Currently, the pantry has only nonperishable foods such as canned fruit and vegetables, pasta, pop and crackers. Foss hopes to buy a freezer to keep a variety of foods available in the future. The pantry is stocked with donations from the community and Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio in Lorain.
Donations of nonperishable foods and hygiene products can be brought to the senior center.
For more information, visit www.MyNeighborhoodAllliance.org or call (440) 233-8768.