In the 16 months since it started, the Worthington Food Pantry has evolved from a few boxes of donated canned goods in an empty storage room to a sleek, efficiently operated grocery distribution center that serves 150 families a month.

In the 16 months since it started, the Worthington Food Pantry has evolved from a few boxes of donated canned goods in an empty storage room to a sleek, efficiently operated grocery distribution center that serves 150 families a month.

Since August, the pantry has been located in the former cafeteria at Harding Hospital. The site well meets the needs of the pantry, providing space for a "shopping" area, lobby, offices, classrooms, storage areas and a loading dock.

The pantry is open six hours a week to provide food and personal items to families that qualify. All must be referred through social service agencies, and must live in the Worthington school district.

Each family can visit up to twice a month.

When a client comes in, he or she is given a shopping cart and escorted by a volunteer.

The store is divided into areas where a certain number of items may be chosen. There are areas for fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, dairy, personal items and miscellaneous.

Clients make their own selections, which are bagged and carried to their vehicles with the help of even more volunteers.

The food lining the shelves has either been donated by community members, or purchased with money donated by the community.

Many local retailers regularly contribute food, and other businesses give monthly donations for the food purchased from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

The furnishings and equipment have also been donated.

For instance, the shelves and a stainless steel working area were donated, and installed, by Giant Eagle.

In typical Worthington style, there are more volunteers than clients. The latest count shows 200 people on roster of those who wait for an opportunity to help their neighbors.

And the food drives that stock the shelves seem to be ongoing. This past Saturday morning alone, the pantry received hundreds of pounds of food from two Rotary clubs, a Scout troop, and a local chiropractor's office.

Volunteers were on hand to move it to storage areas, where more volunteers will sort, stack, inventory, and write thank-you letters.

Sandy Byers is president of the board of the Worthington Food Pantry and Resource Center. She continues to be in awe of the generosity of the Worthington community.

"How do you say 'thank you'," she asked. "It is just unreal."