For the past year Canal Winchester senior citizens have been sharing more than just a meal with each other, they're sharing it with those in need.

For the past year Canal Winchester senior citizens have been sharing more than just a meal with each other, they're sharing it with those in need.

Every Tuesday the Canal Winchester Community Center hosts a senior luncheon that attracts between 75 and 100 attendees.

This past year the Canal Winchester Senior Citizen Club, led by Bill Citro and Mike Felky, designated one luncheon a month as the senior's Soup Kitchen luncheon.

Walmart provides sponsorship of the meal, allowing the seniors to collect donations for the Community Food Pantry instead of just paying for their own meal.

"Walmart was a big partner in our Soup Kitchen luncheons," said Penny Miller, Canal Winchester Human Services director.

"They donated food for the soups and gift cards to cover expenses, as well as sending over several employees to help prepare and serve the meals," Miller said.

When the group decided to undertake the year-long project, they hoped to donate 1,000 items by the end of their first year.

As of last week however, the Soup Kitchen luncheons had generated a donation of 3,000 food items and over $1,000 in financial donations.

"When we ended up with 3,000 items and over $1,000 we more than surpassed what we'd hoped for," Miller said.

"Last year we distributed 57,000 meals out of the Community Food Pantry, the summer time is the hardest time because children aren't in school and many of our families participate in free lunch programs, so we need people to continue to give."

During last week's Soup Kitchen luncheon, Miller chose to highlight the pantry's need for fresh produce, which the Mid-Ohio Food Bank is currently promoting.

"I thought it was too hot for soup and I'd just gone to a conference at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank where they highlighted making fresh produce available as much as possible," Miller said.

"So, instead of soup we decided to incorporate fresh produce," Miller said.

"We decided to use some produce that was over-ripe so that we could draw attention to how important the fresh produce is and let the seniors experience what could be available."

According to Miller, the pantry is partnering with the Canal Winchester Rotary Club to grow fresh produce on two of the city's community garden plots.

"Those two spaces are for the benefit of the Community Food Pantry and are being maintained by the Rotary Club," she said.

"Dill's Nursery donated the plants and we are so looking forward to reaping the benefits of the produce from that garden," Miller said.

Residents who have extra produce from their home garden, or from one of the area community gardens, are able to donate it to the Community Food Pantry Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 360 W. Waterloo St. or at the Canal Winchester Community Center, 22 S. Trine St.

The next senior Soup Kitchen luncheon is scheduled for Tuesday, June 26.

For more information about the senior luncheons or Soup Kitchen luncheons, contact the Community Center at 837-8276.