The PCMA Food Pantry of Pickerington will be holding an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 11 at the facility's new home at 70 Cross St. in Olde Pickerington Village.
Food pantry representative Susan Hite said the open house will give the community a chance to see what the new and improved pantry has to offer.
It will be the first open house for the pantry since its relocation from cramped quarters in the basement of the Carnegie Building on West Columbus Street last February. The move allowed the pantry to nearly triple the size of its physical infrastructure.
"This is really to showcase our new facility," Hite said.
"The community has really supported our venture into the new space," she said.
The open house will feature facility tours, chef demonstrations, and the Violet Township Fire Department will have fire engines and a medic unit on hand for folks to explore.
Light refreshments will be served and, of course, food donations are welcomed.
Hite said the new facility significantly improves the level of service the pantry provides to the community, including being handicapped accessible, which the previous location was not.
"It allows us space to house all food and donations in one place and to have a place that's easily accessible to clients," Hite said.
"It allows us to have some refrigeration units and freezer units, and this also allows us to purchase food from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank."
She said there was little space for storage in the old location. Food was stored in two off-site storage sheds, which meant it was hard to consistently have food on hand for distribution.
"The sheds were subject to the weather, they weren't climatized," Hite said.
"We had food reaching 100 degrees in the summer and freezing in the winter," she said.
"Now ,we have all the food stored on the premises so clients can have a choice. They didn't have a choice before."
Hite said the move came at the right time because the food pantry has experienced a substantial increase in the number of families it serves.
"In June of 2010 we served 73 families a month, in June of 2011 we served 123 families a month and in June of 2012 we served 148 families," Hite said.
Hite said the uptick in local families taking advantage of the food pantry can be attributed to several factors.
"Job losses and health problems have caused families to have significant decreases in income," she said.
"Catastrophic things happen to families and people of all ages, from infants to seniors," Hite said.
"This has created a situation of need for them. They need to supplement what they have," she said.
The food pantry recently hired a new director in Molly Colyer, who is scheduled to start work today, Thursday, Nov. 1.
"She was at one time the director for a very large Lutheran Social Service pantry in the Lancaster area," Hite said.
"This is more of a part-time position for her. She comes to us with a great deal of experience.
"She will help us make the most of our facility and streamline our procedures," Hite said.
Hite credited the Pickerington-area community for its overwhelming support of the food pantry, which is needed now more than ever because it now has to pay for things such as rent and utilities.
The pantry has a five-year lease on its 2,900 square-foot building from the Good Co.
"A great deal of our funding comes from the community through churches, individuals, civic organizations and the schools," Hite said.
"We really are supported by most everyone. This year the city of Pickerington, Violet Township and the (Pickerington) Senior Center each gave us $5,000," she said.
Hite said both the Pickerington High School North and Pickerington High School Central football teams "recently brought in 4,500 cans of food."
"This is an extremely generous community," Hite said.
"We wouldn't be existing if we didn't have the community support we have."