Relocated food pantry seeing gradual increase in users

By: 
Larry Limpf

The food pantry operated by the Lake Township Firebelles is starting its third month in its new home in the former Walbridge Elementary School building and is seeing a gradual increase in the number of residents using its services.
The pantry, which is open the third Monday of the month, will be open May 20 from 5-6:30 p.m. at the former school located at the corner of East Union and South Grove Street.
“The first month in March was slow,” said Elsa Caudill, who organizes the monthly food distributions. “We just need to get the word out there. We did see an increase in April and we’re hoping that in May we’ll see more people coming back. It’s just a matter of them learning where we’re at.”
The pantry isn’t serving meals yet, she said, other than snacks available during the monthly distributions.
Shelving for the donated food and other items is still being assembled at the new site.
“It’s been an on-going thing and I’m sure it will be for the next few months,” Caudill said. “We just want people to know that we’re there and we’re available. We are still an on-demand pantry. During Easter week we did reach out to people and some reached out to us.”

Smooth transition
She said the pantry’s volunteers have made the transition to the new location go smoothly.
“We have Boy Scout Troop 160 back participating and all of the people who had been volunteering before are back now,” she said. “Church of the Brethren has a donation for us once a month and people have brought things for us, knowing we’re trying to get re-started. Emmanuel Free Will Baptist Church in Luckey, where I am a member, has been contributing. Bethlehem Lutheran and St. Peter’s in Millbury were helping us before and are back.”
Her own health issues have resulted in recent hospital stays and rehabilitation, “But I have had other Firebelles step up to the plate. I couldn’t have done it without them and all the other volunteers are right there. They all believe in it because it’s a good cause,” Caudill said.
The Firebelles had operated a monthly food pantry and free dinner at the Walbridge Municipal Building but moved to the new location after the village administration last year decided to end its agreement with them. The Wood County Committee on Aging also uses the space at the municipal building to serve daily meals. Walbridge mayor Ed Kolanko said the county pays to use the space and the village didn’t want to jeopardize that relationship.
The pantry is accepting donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries and monetary donations.
For information Caudill can be contacted at 419-666-3415.

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