Rise in donations, demand prompts need for Gahanna Residents In Need food-pantry manager

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Volunteer Debbie Ballinger sorts food at Gahanna Residents In Need, 165 Granville St., on Jan. 13. GRIN has been so busy that it is looking to hire a food-pantry manager.

Gahanna Residents In Need is seeking candidates to fill the role of food-pantry manager.

Brenda Johnston, GRIN executive director, said the need for a food-pantry manager was heightened in 2020 with the amount of donations and food distributed and as a result of an increase in the COVID-19 coronavirus

”Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, the number of people in need in Gahanna has grown exponentially," Gahanna Mayor Laurie Jadwin said. "As we witnessed firsthand through the Gahanna CARES program, residents are struggling to pay rent, cover utilities and put food on their tables."

Johnston said 189,285 pounds of food had been donated to GRIN in 2020.

“We were not weighing in 2019, but we know and can feel that the donations are at least doubled from 2019 concerning food,” she said. “We have been needing a box truck for about two years and in 2020 finally did a campaign and was able to buy a new box truck to help with the thousands of pounds of food being transported per week.”

Johnston said it’s impossible for her and GRIN program director Beth Bentley to keep their hours at the level they were when they were hired (Johnston 25 hours per week, Bentley 20 hours) because of the increased needs of the food pantry.

Volunteer Kaylee Padova fills a bag for clients at the GRIN facility Jan. 13.

“So this position was created to provide a manager for the pantry itself, to manage volunteers and food coming in and out and event management and food prep for the events,” Johnston said. “Beth and I are still part time, but I feel I need to be full time, just not wanting to increase hours because of budgeting.”

Gahanna Residents In Need, a nonprofit community-wide, faith-based organization committed to helping residents of the Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District in a time of need, is at 165 Granville St.

Johnston said the food-pantry manager position would be for 15 hours per week at $16 per hour.  

Hours include evenings and weekends during food-distribution events.  

She said the job also requires being able to lift 35 pounds, a good driving record and the ability to drive a 17-foot truck, organizational skills and interpersonal skills.

Resumes should be sent to Johnston at ed4grin@gmail.com or Bentley at pd4grin@gmail.com. 

Resumes must be received before Feb. 1. 

Johnston said across all programs, 171,862 meals were served in 2020 compared to 149,555 in 2019.

Broken down by programs, she said, 13,047 meals were provided during the summer lunch program compared to 5,151 in 2019. 

The weekend snack pack program has provided 13,867 meals thus far this school year. And 18,300 meals were provided in 2019-20.

The holiday assistance program provided 7,792 meals in 2020 compared to 3,944 in 2019.

Volunteer Gail Mignogno takes a box of food to a client at Gahanna Residents In Need, 165 Granville St. on Jan. 13.

Johnston said the back-to-school fair served 383 children in 2020, even with impending virtual school, compared to 438 in 2019. 

She said the food pantry itself provided 136,896 meals in 2020 compared to 118,098 in 2019.

“GRIN was also able to assist the senior Center with 1,560 meals, as well as the schools during spring break with 4,000 meals,” Johnston said.

Throughout the past year, GRIN has taken proactive measures to reach and assist as many residents as possible, Jadwin said.  

"Whether it has been expanding their hours, increasing their avenues for communicating with residents, or adding to their types of support for GJPS families, GRIN has been able to adjust and respond to the increasing needs in our community," she said.  "We are grateful for their commitment to supporting our Gahanna residents, as well as to our community as whole in stepping up to increase their own support of GRIN’s initiatives.”

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla