Community ramps up support for food pantry

MONICA PRYTS | Allied NewsMembers of the Cpl. Claire Van Eman Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 519, Grove City, recently presented donations to the Grove City Community Food Pantry. It is one of many community organizations that contributes to the food pantry. Club members donated food and $500, and the Post 519 Auxiliary donated $500. From left are Traci Gerad, executive director of the food pantry; Amanda Price, club manager; Fran Reash, auxiliary trustee; and Post Commander Ben Lewis.

GROVE CITY – This has been a tough year for nonprofits, especially for food pantries trying to navigate the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Grove City Community Food Pantry is not having its Parade of Trees food drive this year, confirmed Traci Gerard, the pantry’s executive director.

In previous years, local businesses would provide a Christmas tree, and they would be paired with a nonprofit that would decorate the tree.

Visitors would then “vote” for their favorite tree by donating items for the food pantry, and the winning nonprofit would receive a cash prize.

Because of the pandemic, the number of people who can occupy a business at the same time is limited.

But despite the absence of the food pantry’s largest food drive of the year, community members are really pulling together to help the organization.

“The people here are good. They’ve always treated the people right,” Gerard said.

Businesses, organizations and individuals are holding their own food drives and making donations, helping to serve the 494 families on the food pantry’s roster.

When the $1,200 federal stimulus checks were distributed earlier this year, some local residents donated the entire amount to the food pantry, saying others were more in need.

People are happy to see that the food pantry has remained open, and Gerard is making sure to follow pandemic precautions because so many people rely on the organization.

She has had trouble buying certain items in bulk for the food pantry’s shelves, like toilet paper.

“They put the same limits on us,” she said, just as stores limit quantities certain products for all customers.

Thrifty Threads, the thrift store that benefits the food pantry, remains closed, but Gerard has been able to provide clothing to people in need this year.

In addition to items like toilet paper and laundry soap, the food pantry is requesting these donations to help keep the shelves stocked through the new year: hams, fresh or instant potatoes, stuffing mix, fresh or canned yams and sweet potatoes, canned pie filling, canned evaporated milk, pie crust mix, disposable foil roasters, cookie mix and cookie decorations, cranberry sauce, canned green beans, packaged gravy, creamed soup and canned sauerkraut.

Donations MAY be dropped off at the food pantry, 114 S. Center St., Grove City, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday and Friday. Appointments can be made for other days and times by calling 724-967-5852. For help organizing a food drive for the pantry, call Linda at 724-967-5362.

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