Community members braved cold, wet weather last weekend to demonstrate their resolve against hunger.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank conducted Hands for Hunger, a hunger awareness event that simultaneously marked the foodbank's third year in Grove City.
The plan originally called for using a human chain to pass a can of food from the foodbank's facility at 3960 Brookham Drive to the Grove City Food Pantry and Emergency Services, 2710 Columbus St, one the foodbank's 550 partner agencies in the central and southeast ohio region.
Instead, due to inclement weather, participants lined up around the Mid-Ohio Foodbank itself and passed several items to a waiting truck for delivery to the pantry.
"It's a different way for folks to get involved," said Colin Baumgartner, Mid-Ohio Foodbank's director of communication and marketing. "The hope is to raise that awareness, and then the food and funds will follow."
The event also featured a collection drive by the Girl Scouts as well as live music and tours of the foodbank's facility following the passing of the can at 9:30 a.m.
The Mid-Ohio Foodbank's facility is a 204,000 square-foot operation, requiring 13,000 volunteers annually to grow, sort and distribute food.
From the lobby, visitors can look out into the massive warehouse space and see boxes of food piled to the ceiling. They can also see the packing room, where volunteers stuff and seal boxes along an assembly line.
The foodbank also has its own pantry.
Mark Mollenkopf, program data and systems analyst for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, said the foodbank's pantry services about 50 scheduled families every day and another 30 to 50 who just show up.
Last spring, the pantry served 214 families in a single night, going through 20,000 pounds of food.
"We don't turn folks away," Mollenkopf said.
Since January, Mollenkopf said the foodbank's pantry has served around 11,000 families.
The Mid-Ohio Foodbank also has 12,500 square feet of freezer space, enough to hold the loads of about 65 semi-trailers.
The temperature is kept at 10 degrees below zero, and volunteers have to wear snow suits to work in the freezers.
Mollenkopf said the foodbank is also developing technology to "get a better picture of hunger." Pantry Track is a web-based, automated system that the foodbank is working to link up with its partner agencies to better track the families served and services provided and keep records.
"The numbers about hunger are so big, it's easy to get lost in that," Mollenkopf said. "If you can drill it down to a locality, a neighborhood ... you can give voice to it."