Gahanna Residents In Need has changed the way it operates as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but help is still available.

Brenda Johnston, executive director of the organization, said GRIN has implemented a drive-thru model for food pickup, so no one gets out of their cars in order to limit person-to-person exposure.

She said clients are asked to drive around the back of Rockwood Dry Cleaners, 171 Granville St., and proceed between Rockwood and GRIN.

"We have the boxes outside," she said.

"Right now it's specific (to the number of people in a family)."

Families previously were able to do personal shopping inside the building at 165 Granville St.

Johnston said boxes are being distributed according to family size and include dairy products, produce, meat and bread.

The drive-thru distribution is held during regular pantry hours, which are expected to be expanded. Pantry hours typically have been 10 a.m. to noon Wednesdays, 6 to 8 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays and 9 to 11 a.m. on the first and third Saturdays.

"Sustainability is going to be the biggest issue for us," Johnston said. "We're always going to need donations. We're (planning to be) open every day except for Sunday for the next three weeks."

She said the pantry needs monetary donations more than anything.

"We can make the dollars stretch further," Johnston said.

"We can buy more through Mid-Ohio (Food Collective, formerly Foodbank)."

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Johnston said the need for help is expected to remain steady.

"Even after the virus is under control, people will be trying to recoup their losses," she said. "People are losing their jobs."

GRIN and Gahanna Neighborhood Bridges partnered to hold three food collections in the parking lot at Gahanna Lincoln High School, 140 S. Hamilton Road. The final collection is scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, when pasta and pasta sauce are requested.

"We asked for items that can stretch," Johnston said. "It's a whole community effort."

The first collection, requesting such proteins as canned meats/fish and peanut butter, was facilitated by Ron Smith of Gahanna Bridges.

It brought in 1,379 pounds of protein valued at $2,344.37. Nonperishable breakfast items were scheduled to be collected at the high school March 24.

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Johnston said, the pantry is limiting volunteers to 10.

"We have to spread things out into shifts," she said.

"We're keeping on top of things with sanitizer."

As a result of the coronavirus, GRIN's clothing pantry is closed until further notice.

Johnston said food rescue -- accepting leftovers from area restaurants donating to GRIN -- wouldn't be accepted until further notice.

She said all clients are being advised if they have cold or flu symptoms to stay home and send a proxy for their food box.

"GRIN will adhere to the necessary safety precautions for the community concerning food distribution," Johnston said.

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