The Livingston United Methodist Church is seeking volunteers to help at the December food pantry.
Those interested can show up at the church at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, and Saturday, Dec. 21. Clients will be served from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
"We're always looking for cheerful volunteers," said the Rev. Jim Donnan, pastor of the church, 200 E. Livingston Ave.
The food pantry is called Rosemary's Cupboard, named after founder Rosemary Wills, who's now in an assisted-living facility.
Donnan said the atmosphere is upbeat.
Clients are given shopping carts so they can pick out their own food.
Volunteers then carry the groceries out to the clients' cars or the bus.
The food pantry serves families who live Downtown and in South Side and Near East Side neighborhoods.
Donnan said the pantry has seen a roughly 15 percent increase over recent months, mostly because of the reduction in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as SNAP, or food stamps.
For example, in September, the pantry served 108 families representing 217 individuals.
In November, the pantry served 126 families representing 234 people, said Jeanette Bosworth, volunteer coordinator at the food pantry.
Many of those are single-parent families with children, Bosworth said.
"Our obligation is to provide food for three days per family," she said.
"We try, within our budget, to provide more than that.
"When you stop to think, that's not enough food."
The neighborhood has met the challenge by stepping up contributions, Donnan said.
"We've had a spike of giving, absolutely, at the pantry over the past year," he said.
"People see the need. They are champions for the pantry and the church.
"Folks have been very generous, primarily with cash donations," Donnan said.
People can drop off canned and packaged food, personal-hygiene products and paper products, at the church or at a shopping cart placed inside the entrance to the German Village Meeting Haus, 588 S. Third St.
Donnan said the food pantry welcomes all contributions but prefers cash because the church buys food from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, where a single dollar has five times the buying power than at traditional grocery stores.
The pantry is open three days a week each month, so volunteers always are welcome, Donnan said.
"If folks become long-term volunteers we'll give them training for higher functioning processes in the organization," he said.