M.A.S.H. Pantry and Resource Center since 2015 has operated free food pantries for veterans in central Ohio.

The organization believes the need for its services exists in Delaware.

M.A.S.H. President Amber Hudson said the organization is looking for a site in the city for a permanent pantry.

M.A.S.H., which stands for Military and Service Heroes, holds free produce markets for veterans in Columbus, Gahanna and Commercial Point, and earlier operated one in Delaware once a month.

Its main pantry is in Grove City, where about 200 veterans are served each month.

Two more pantries are at Defense Supply Center Columbus in Whitehall, and Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base.

Hudson said the organization also operates PTSD support groups in Grove City and Whitehall, and would like to start one in Delaware.

She said M.A.S.H. has a core group of about 40 volunteers and provides free food to any veteran or active-duty personnel with military or veteran identification, with no other requirements.

The group has equipment and money to get a Delaware pantry started, she said, and needs a location between 750 and 1,000 square feet to hold fixtures, food and clothing.

Leaders have explored the possibility of a specific site, but it's so far undetermined if it will be available.

Ric Ray, a member of the Delaware County Veterans Services Commission, said Delaware has a need for such a pantry.

"I'm sorry, but everybody isn't rich in Delaware County," he said. "It's unbelievable the amount of people that need help. Many are (underemployed) or can't find work."

For a veteran, Ray said, assistance connected with any government agency often will involve requirements the veteran cannot meet or delays that create additional hardship.

Those scenarios aren't an issue with M.A.S.H., he said.

"If you're hungry today, you can't wait a week and a half to get help. M.A.S.H. can do it now," he said. "With M.A.S.H., if you need food or clothes and they've got it, it's yours."

Hudson, a Navy veteran, said veterans are a proud group and often won't ask for assistance.

But once they are acquainted with M.A.S.H., she said, "They know they can come and get food and clothes and won't be alone."

Food in M.A.S.H. pantries is mostly donated and comes from businesses, food drives and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

It includes nonperishable food, and often milk, eggs and meat.

Hygiene items also are provided.

"We're open to any place in the city of Delaware," she said.

For more information on M.A.S.H., visit mashpantry.org.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews