Reynoldsburg News

Helping Hands food pantry needs help itself

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The Reynoldsburg Helping Hands food pantry could use more than a little help these days -- in terms of both food and monetary donations. And a larger space would be welcome, too.

"We are the only food pantry that serves only Reynoldsburg school district families," pantry director Janet Munjas said. "So all food and money donated goes to local families.

"The only way we can get food for those families is by food and monetary donations," she said. "Unlike other area food pantries, we don't get food from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank."

She said her biggest need now, though, is actually a larger building or space to house the food pantry, currently located at 7356 E. Main St.

"Mid-Ohio Foodbank will not approve us to get food because our location is so small," she said. "I'd love to work with an organization or business to see if we could relocate into a larger building.

"Other food pantries in the area, such as the Heart Food Pantry, are supported by a church and are large enough to partner with Mid-Ohio Foodbank and get food at a much cheaper price," she said.

Munjas said Helping Hands serves about 40 people each week by appointment, but in the past, those receiving food for the first time were allowed to come back to receive more food only every three months.

"We were able to change that to every other month recently," she said. "I'm proud of how we have handled our money, because we have to spend $400 or $500 a week at Kroger and Aldi's, without any kind of a discount from those two stores."

Helping Hands is open from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, which is when people may drop off food donations.

Canned and nonperishable food and items such as cereal, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, gelatin and pudding, canned soups, chili, beef stew, peanut butter and personal care items are always needed, Munjas said.

The pantry also buys and keeps frozen food on hand, along with fresh items such as milk, eggs and bread and gives out grocery store gift cards, which is why monetary donations are much appreciated, Munjas said.

She said people should check the expiration dates on canned and non-perishable items, because outdated items are not accepted.

Checks may be sent to Reynoldsburg Helping Hands, P.O. Box 1521, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.

Munjas said families in need of assistance should call Helping Hands at 614-868-9394 to leave a number and a message about how many adults and children are in their families.

"We call people back to make an appointment for them to come in and pick up food," she said.

Because of Helping Hands' small space at the East Main Street location, though, people are handed bags of food and can't really browse the shelves to pick out what they want or need, Munjas said.

"If we had a larger location, we could buy from Mid-Ohio Foodbank and let people walk around and pick out the foods they need," she said. "My goal is to help people feel like they are going to a grocery store."

She said the only thing a needy family must provide to receive help is a utility bill to prove they live in the Reynoldsburg school district.

Munjas said she wants to thank the schools for helping the food pantry during the holidays and especially a first-grade class from Summit Road Elementary School, which gave $1,000.

She said Reynoldsburg Helping Hands first opened in 1958.

Munjas is a former Rey-noldsburg teacher, who taught within the district for 41 years.

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