Booster

Nov. 15 concert

Food pantry benefit set at UA church

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A Short North-based food pantry that serves three of Columbus' higher-poverty areas will team with Northwest Christian Church in Upper Arlington on Friday, Nov. 15, to host an annual holiday fundraising concert.

For nearly 45 years, NNEMAP Food Pantry -- formerly known as the Near North Side Emergency Material Assistance Program -- has provided food, health services, medical benefits assistance and other aid to people in need in areas of Columbus such as downtown, the University District, Linden and Short North.

In part through partnerships with 32 Columbus-area churches, the nonprofit food pantry, located in the basement of an old church at 1064 N. High St., is able to provide an average of 2,400 people a three-day supply of groceries twice each month.

A primary fundraiser for the food pantry is its annual Harmony for Hunger Concert, which is hosted each year by supporting churches.

On Friday, Nov. 15, the fourth annual Harmony for Hunger Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Northwest Christian Church, 1340 Fishinger Road, Upper Arlington.

The concert will feature Chuck Gillespie as both a performer and master of ceremonies, and will include performances from many of the area churches that support NNEMAP. Concert tickets cost $15 each and are available at local churches (go to nnemappantry.org for a complete list), or by emailing director@nnemappantry.org .

Tickets will also be available at the door. A silent auction will be held during the intermission of the concert.

All proceeds go to help NNEMAP purchase food and provide other services to people in need.

"The churches bring us their top talent ... and a variety of music," said Roy Clark, NNEMAP executive director. "It's not all just church music.

"Hopefully, we'll have 250 to 300 people there."

Last year, the concert raised $6,000. That's significant for the pantry, Clark said, because it purchases food in bulk from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Each dollar donated is worth $11 in food purchasing power, he said.

"Typically, we do run low of funds in the fourth quarter of the year," Clark said. "The fundraiser is real important for us to get through the two busiest months of the year."

In serving three high-poverty areas of Columbus, Clark said, the need for food assistance continues to grow.

He noted that NNEMAP has seen a 12-percent increase in the number of individuals it serves this year, and that number has risen by more than 20 percent since last May.

Additionally, he said, the expiration of the 2009 federal Recovery Act's temporary Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has resulted in cuts -- about $36 per month for a family of four -- in assistance to food stamp-recipients.

"That's going to create quite a bit of increases for food pantries all over the place," Clark said. "Probably our biggest challenge is just keeping the shelves stocked, particularly with fresh produce and meat."

NNEMAP is operated by three part-time employees and approximately 115 volunteers.

Those volunteers come from throughout the central Ohio region, including Clintonville, Dublin, Upper Arlington, Westerville and Worthington, Clark said.

In addition to the entertainment and light refreshments, Clark said the Harmony for Hunger Concert serves as an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the pantry, including volunteer and donation opportunities.

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