Two organizations based in the Worthington community have formed an alliance to help deliver food to senior citizens and needy families during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
COhatch, a company based in Worthington that rents coworking, events and office space to businesses and individuals, has agreed to deliver meals for the Worthington Resource Pantry to people who are sheltering in place or lack transportation.
The partnership will last 90 days, with some indications it could go beyond that, leaders from both groups said.
“It seems like a very long-term thing,” said Matt Davis, one of the COhatch founders, who in 2016 opened its first location at what was the Zettler Hardware Store on High Street. “The vision would be to keep this going, but now is not a time for super long-term planning.”
Davis said COhatch’s properties have been open for members who are deemed essential businesses, and the company has used “limited staffing to just clean.”
But meanwhile, Davis said, he has mobilized all 15 of his employees to reach out to people who rent office space or use one of the company’s services to volunteer during the current crisis.
“It’s one of the key elements of being a human being,” he said. “One of the things I always say is, ‘Everybody says they love to volunteer, but ask them how many times in a year they’ve volunteered, (and) they say zero.’ Life gets in the way.”
COhatch will deliver boxes of food each Thursday through June, Davis said. Extra days could be added depending on the need, he said.
“We’ll keep it going as long as we can,” he said. “We’re just figuring out as we go.”
Meanwhile, the pantry appreciates the help, said Nick Linkenhoker, executive director of the facility.
“We’ve been increasing ever since we moved here five years ago,” he said. “The rising cost of living in Columbus has hurt those folks the most. I think in general, the community has benefited from a high standard of living, but those who live on a fixed income, seniors who live in Social Security, obviously, it hurts them the most.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the pantry has been offering pull-up services from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays, Linkenhoker said.
Before the first day of delivery, April 1, 25 people had signed up for food delivery, he said.
“I think once word gets out, that number will go up,” he said.
The pantry serves households that earn 200% or less below the federal poverty line, Linkenhoker said.
Under normal circumstances, individuals are required to sign up for food services, he said.
These days, things are a little more lenient, Linkenhoker said. Anyone who pulls up in a vehicle simply must give his or her name and ages of people living in the household and show an ID, he said.
Customers have access to baked goods, fresh produce, eggs, milk, personal-care items, diapers, baby food and dog and cat food.
The pantry serves people who live in the following ZIP codes: 43085, 43229, 43035, 43081, 43240, 43235, 43016 and 43065.
People can receive four days of groceries twice a month, Linkenhoker said.
Kelly Wright of Worthington was picking up a few items April 1 for her children, Havilah, 14, Silas, 12, and Elisha, 8.
“It just helps,” Wright said. “We don’t make a lot of money. Having extra groceries is helpful.”
David McCorkle, Worthington’s economic-development director, is credited with linking the pantry and COhatch for the project, but the two organizations are well-acquainted, Linkenhoker said.
“The city has been actively trying to connect available resources with those in need,” McCorkle said. “The Worthington Resource Pantry and COhatch were a natural fit.”
The food pantry has been a member of COhatch since its founding in Worthington. In turn, COhatch provides the food pantry access to meeting space and services, and it allows the pantry to auction a vacation at a company home in Florida each year, Davis said.
The pantry gets its supplies from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, through direct retail partnership with such stores as Target, Kroger, Fresh Thyme, Hills Market and Little Caesars and community donations, Linkenhoker, said.
“I can’t tell you how grateful we are that the community here in Worthington has come together to support the pantry the way they do,” he said.