Gahanna Residents In Need's new mobile unit delivers on goods, expectations

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Donna Trotter (left) and Kathy O'Hara, both of Gahanna and volunteers at Gahanna Residents In Need, put items into a food box March 5 to be delivered to clients as part of GRIN's new mobile-unit delivery program.

Gahanna Residents In Need has gone mobile. 

Brenda Johnston, GRIN executive director, said deliveries are being made to areas of high need, shut-ins and people with transportation issues.

She said the inaugural mobile-unit delivery was “amazing” on March 1 at Royal Manor Elementary School, 299 Empire Drive.

Of the 31 families that had arrived for the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools’ grab-and-go meals, she said, 17 had gone to the mobile unit for more food.  

“The majority of them have never been to GRIN, thought they were not eligible because they were not at the poverty line or felt that people needed it more than they did,” Johnston said. “People who have never had to ask for help found the courage to step out and let us help them.”

Beth Bentley, GRIN program director, said the distribution accomplished exactly what had been hoped.

“We were able to meet and provide food to families in need, the majority of whom had not been helped by GRIN in the past,” she said. “We believe this is a first step in building relationships and overcoming whatever barriers exist for these families.  

“We were able to assure families that yes, we have food for them, and they don't need to be concerned that someone else might need it more.”

If a family needs a helping hand, Bentley said, GRIN is there for them.  

“I am very thankful for the generosity of the Gahanna community, our partnership with Meijer on North Hamilton Road and Mid-Ohio (Food) Collective, which ensures we have the resources we need to serve our great community,” she said.

Johnston said the idea to deliver food to clients who can’t visit the pantry at 165 Granville St. is an old one that had come to fruition as a result of GRIN getting a truck last year.

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“We have talked about satellite offices for five years, to be able to service all people in need, especially those with transportation problems,” she said. “When we were able to get the truck last year, it brought the idea closer to the surface. With the recent onboarding of a board member from the schools, we were given the insight of specific needs in a specific area.”

Johnston said GRIN collaborated with Alissa Lopez, Royal Manor principal, to pilot the first mobile unit.

She said the second mobile delivery was at Penny Lane Mews apartments March 8, with nine recipients.

“Our hopes are to reach out to other areas of high need, as identified,” Johnston said.

Brenda Johnston (left), executive director of Gahanna Residents In Need, and program director Beth Bentley load food boxes onto a truck March 5.

Currently, GRIN is going to Royal Manor twice a month and to Penny Lane Mews once a month.  

“As we uncover other areas and get more schools on board, we will then be able to release a schedule of sites,” Johnston said.  

She said school principals could help GRIN reach the families in their specific areas, and the organization is relying on businesses, churches and others to refer client-need areas.  

“We will then assess the areas and come up with a plan to serve them,” Johnston said. “Ultimately, we want to encourage the families to come to GRIN, where they can get toiletries, feminine-hygiene items, cleaners, dairy, meat, produce and other foods. The mobile sites will be limited in what we can provide, of course.”

She said GRIN also is providing home deliveries, but by referral only. 

“As people reach out to us with referrals of neighbors or call us themselves, we will home-deliver food to them,” Johnston said. “This is so exciting to be able to help people and care for them in a time of need.”

GRIN can be reached by email at grin@grin4gahanna.org or by calling 614-214-4747.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla