MIAMI COUNTY — The coronavirus has had an affect on not only those who contract the disease, but also on businesses and organizations throughout the nation and world. This includes local food pantries who are working to adhere to ever-changing safety protocol while still providing necessities to those in need.
The Bethany Center, located at 339 South St., Piqua, is operating as close to normal as possible, with the exception that lunch will be served as carry-out only, according to BC Board chairperson Cathy Large.
“We are doing carry-out only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.,” Large said.
Along with serving as a soup kitchen, the center also provides a food pantry, which will now operate as a “drive up” pantry on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 1-3 p.m.
Large said an ID and proof of address is needed to receive food pantry items. She also noted that current plans could change at any time.
“Nobody knows how long we’re going to be open and that’s not because we don’t have any food,” she said.
Due to recent orders from Gov. Mike DeWine regarding increasing safety protocol, which has included the closing of schools and restaurants to dine-in patrons, there is a lot left unknown as to if, or when, food pantries may be forced to close too.
Even if pantries and soup kitchens are not ordered closed by governmental agencies, the health and safety of volunteers, which are crucial to the day-to-day operations of these organizations, is in the forefront of the conversation.
Sharon Buse, head of outreach and marketing for First Place Food Pantry, located at 721 Lincoln Ave. in Troy, said many of the pantry’s volunteers fall under the “at risk” category when it comes to coronavirus precaution due to age.
Buse said FPFP has also transitioned to a “drive-thru” style food pantry service, with a box of food, packed to include a variety of necessities, will be brought out to visitors in their cars.
She added that the pantry intends to stay open as usual for as long as possible. Hours of operation are Monday, from 1-3 p.m. and 5-6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, from 1-3 p.m. (and 3 to 5 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month); Friday, from 1-3 p.m.; and a senior program is held the second Saturday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Due to the high demand of items at grocery stores within the past two weeks, Buse said donations from local stores have gone down “substantially.”
“We got almost nothing on Monday, and that is usually a day where we get a lot of donations,” she said. “We’re getting nothing from Pepperidge Farm; we usually get a lot of our bread from them … We’re still getting some bread from Panera Bread.”
Due to expected further cuts to local bus route hours, Buse said FPFP may begin having volunteers deliver food to the pantry’s senior clients.
Buse said Troy’s Harris Jeweler will be giving away a limited edition Kendra Scott piece every day for the next 30 days. For every entry received, Harris Jeweler will donate $1 to FPFP up to $1,000. Visit Harris Jeweler on Facebook and follow the steps to win.
Donations can also be made to FPFP through its Facebook page or website, at www.troyfoodpantry.org. Donations of cardboard boxes are also being accepted.
St. Pat’s Soup Kitchen, at 25 N. Mulberry St. in Troy, has closed its dining room, instead offering carry-out meals from 5-6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
New Path’s Tipp City Food Pantry, at 7695 S. County Road 25-A, Tipp City, will also utilize the drive-up/box system and no choice pantry will be available until further notice. Miami County residents must provide a photo ID and proof of residency. Pantry hours are Monday, 6-7:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday, 2-3:30 p.m.
The Covington Outreach Association, at 101 N. Wall St., is temporarily “softening” pantry guidelines and will allow families more frequent visits to the pantry during this time. Those from Covington who are in need may call the COA office at (937) 473-2415.