The Pickerington Food Pantry will take a walk on the glamorous side when it plays host to its first fundraiser gala.

In recent years, the pantry has done most of its fundraising through the Food Truck Frenzy in June and the Festival of Lights campaign that starts in November.

This year, the pantry is looking to supplement those efforts by providing another experience for donors.

Drawing from high school prom season, it will be the adults turn for formality and elegance when the pantry plays host to its first black tie-optional Hope Gala on April 28 at Zion Pickerington, 5780 Reynoldsburg Baltimore Road.

Up to 180 tickets, at $75 each, will be sold for the event, which will run from 7 to 11 p.m. Each attendee will receive hors d'oeuvres, dinner, a portrait photograph and two beverages with admission.

A wine and beer cash bar also will be available, and the pantry will raise funds for food and supplies through $25 raffle tickets for wine and gift card prizes.

A portion of ticket sales also will support the pantry.

"We thought the adults have sent their kids off to prom and maybe they deserve one themselves," said Vanessa Niekamp, Pickerington Food Pantry community relations and fundraising director.

Gala tickets can be purchased by mailing a check to: Pickerington Food Pantry, P.O. Box 914, Pickerington, OH 43147; or by visiting the pantry, 70 Cross St.

They're also available through the pantry's website at, but a $3.50 fee is accessed to online purchases.

In addition to snazzy dress, food and drinks, the gala will feature a disc jockey.

"We hope it draws a lot of attention to the pantry and we are able to hold it every year," Niekamp said.

Niekamp said community support is vital to the pantry's operations and efforts to help feed many Pickerington-area families and adults who need food assistance.

"We are experiencing an increase in the number of seniors who are utilizing the food pantry," she said. "A lot of seniors are trying to stay in their homes while affording medication and their own in-home care. A lot of them are on limited incomes trying to take care of another generation."

According to statistics provided by Niekamp, the pantry served 2,262 households in fiscal year 2016 and 1,946 in fiscal year 2017.

Through the first half of fiscal year 2018, Niekamp said, the pantry has served 1,082 households, which includes a growing number of senior citizens, many of whom are caring for children.

In fiscal year 2017, 3.4 percent of the senior citizens the pantry served reportedly were raising a minor child.

Through the first half of fiscal 2018, Niekamp said, 26 percent of seniors served by the pantry were raising at least one child.

The pantry can purchase $11 worth of groceries for every $1 donated because of a partnership with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

"Each of those dollars we raise will really turn into $11 worth of food," Niekamp said.

"We felt like there's not another gala or event of this type, and we wanted to present a new option and also raise money and awareness for the pantry."