The Pickerington PCMA Food Pantry's new director, Molly Colyer, has been at the helm for almost three months.
Colyer attended the Pickerington City Council meeting Jan. 15 to express her gratitude for the high-level of community support as well as to explain the pantry's expanding mission.
Colyer said the pantry aspires to be a "service organization" in addition to providing healthy food to those in need.
"We want to provide services that will enhance the life of our clients," Colyer said.
One of the ways in which to accomplish that goal is to link up its customers with free tax services. "Free tax preparation is offered through (the) United Way and Ohio Benefit Bank," Colyer said.
"It's not going to be at our food pantry, but at different locations in the Pickerington area," she said.
"It will be on two weekdays and one Saturday and anyone over 60 can qualify."
She said the free tax preparation information is posted in the pantry's lobby.
"That program's been around, I just don't think it's been widely shared," Colyer said.
Colyer said down the road the pantry will be offering classes about how to prepare nutritious meals and give out recipes for meals "that don't take a long time to prepare."
"We're looking forward to having a nutritionist come in and guide us in this endeavor," she said.
Colyer said many of the pantry's customers aren't cognizant of the fact they can frequent other food pantries in the service area to further supplement their food supply.
"We're always offering information to our clients," Colyer said.
"Right now some of our clients don't know they can go to more than one a month when in fact they can go to one (food pantry) a week," Colyer said.
She said a customer at the PCMA Food Pantry "can come to us once every 28 days."
However, those seeking further assistance can contact Fairfield County's "Information and Referral" Line by dialing 2-1-1 or 740-687-0500.
Colyer cited some sobering statistics at the City Council meeting to shed some light on just how crucial the PCMA Food Pantry is to the Pickerington area.
"We've experienced significant growth -- 24 percent of school children in Pickerington schools qualify for free- or reduced-(price) lunches," Colyer said.
"That's up by 4 percent from last year."
She said she was amazed at the level of support in the community for the pantry.
She cited the $20,000 grant from the United Way of Fairfield County, which helped the pantry move into its new location at 70 Cross St.
She said the support from Pickerington City Council, Violet Township, the Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce as well as area businesses, churches and schools has been equally tremendous.
The PCMA Food Pantry just recently announced that the Plaza of Lights fundraising campaign raised $30,735 over the holiday season.
During the campaign, the elementary, middle and junior high schools of the Pickerington Local School District were responsible for collecting $10,489 in contributions.
Colyer, a native of Barnesville in eastern Ohio, brings a diverse professional background to her job gained from working in television advertising and real estate.
Three years running the food pantry at Lutheran Social Services in Lancaster has prepared her for her latest role as director of the PCMA Food Pantry.
"It's a wonderful facility," Colyer said.
"I think the food pantry and I are a good fit. I have a heart for helping those in need," she said.
For more information or to donate to the PCMA Food Pantry of Pickerington, go to the website pcmafoodpantry.com.