Tri-Village Lions Club tackles hunger, COVID-19 at Ohio State

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Nick Fowler, Buckeye Food Alliance coordinator, sits inside the pantry in Lincoln Tower on the Ohio State University campus. The Tri-Village Lions Club and other Ohio Lions Club chapters have made 1,400 masks they plan to either donate to the pantry, or sell to raise money for it.

The Tri-Village Lions Club is leading a project that will help people in the community stay safe from the COVID-19 coronavirus and support improved food security for Ohio State University students. 

About a dozen Lions Club chapters, mostly from central Ohio, have come together to produce 1,400 handmade face masks. 

One thousand of the masks will be sold at $5 each, with $1 of the proceeds of each sale going to the Buckeye Food Alliance, the food pantry on the Ohio State campus that serves its students, said Tri-Village Lions member Jane Jarrow, who is helping to coordinate the mask project. 

The remaining $4 will go back to the Lions Club chapter that made the mask to support its own charitable efforts, she said. 

One of Lions Club International’s five pillars of service is hunger, Jarrow said. 

“When we started looking at potential areas of focus for this project, masks to provide safety and feeding the hungry seemed like natural choices,” she said. 

“The decision on picking Buckeye Food Alliance as the beneficiary happened because, at the time we were beginning to think about the project, Ohio State had announced it was going to have students attend face-to-face classes in the fall,” Jarrow said. “The Tri-Village Lions have supported the Buckeye Food Alliance in the past.” 

The university’s plan to provide two masks for every student likely wouldn’t be enough to last throughout the fall semester, and many students might struggle to pay for food, much less masks, she said. 

“Our goal was also to provide masks for students to use,” Jarrow said. 

For every 10 masks that are sold, one mask will be given to the Buckeye Food Alliance to distribute to students, she said. 

The goal is to sell 1,000 masks, Jarrow said. 

Another 200 masks have been given to the campus pantry, she said. The remaining masks will be distributed to other charitable organizations in the community. 

In addition to the Tri-Village Lions Club, chapters from Canal Winchester, Franklinton, Grove City, North Ridgeville, Olentangy, OSU campus, Prospect, Troy, Westerville and Worthington participated in the project, she said. 

The doors to the Buckeye Food Alliance opened March 30, 2016, said Nick Fowler, the pantry’s coordinator. 

“It’s a student-run organization,” he said. “I’m the only employee. The rest of our staff are student volunteers.” 

Anyone with a student ID may stop by the pantry, located in Lincoln Tower, 1800 Cannon Drive, to choose items from a selection of fruits and vegetables, meat and canned, frozen and refrigerated foods, as well as tofu and vegan options, Fowler said. 

Much of the produce is supplied by OSU’s Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory and Farm and Unity Fridge, a community garden at Waterman, he said. 

Donations of food and financial contributions make up the rest of the pantry’s offerings, Fowler said. 

Food insecurity is a common problem for college students, who often find themselves lacking the money for an adequate supply of food, he said. 

“Our concern is not just the lack of food, but that students sometimes aren’t getting the nutrition they need from the food they do buy,” Fowler said.  

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are struggling because they can’t find work or have been laid off from jobs that provided needed income, he said. 

In addition to the Lincoln Tower site, the Buckeye Food Alliance has a second location at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 30 W. Woodruff Ave. 

“It’s a second location that ordinarily can serve students on the other side of campus,” Fowler said. 

However, the St. Stephen’s location is closed indefinitely due to the space requirements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. 

The Lincoln Tower site is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays. 

In fiscal 2020, the Buckeye Food Alliance had about 2,500 visits to the pantry, an increase from 576 the previous year, Fowler said.  

“We’re on pace this fiscal year to have about 6,000 visitors,” he said.  

“I think one of the reasons we’re seeing such an increase is just word of mouth – more people know we’re here,” Fowler said. 

For more information about the Buckeye Food Alliance, go to buckeyefoodalliance.org. 

For more information about the Tri-Village Lions mask project or to purchase masks, email Jarrow at lionjarrow@gmail.com. Orders of 25 or more masks will be accepted for businesses or offices. 

afroman@thisweeknews.com 

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