BELLVILLE — The accessibility of more local food was celebrated Thursday at a “truck media event” at the Bellville Neighborhood Outreach Center (BNOC).
An 18-foot box truck was delivered to the back parking lot at BNOC, and unveiled to people gathering for the event.
Representatives of BNOC were there, as well as people from the Cleveland Food Bank and others from the village.
BNOC is a “trailblazer” in delivering services to people, said Jess Morgan, of the Food Bank.
She said BNOC has delivered 1.8 million meals to families in Richland County.
A grant from Walmart and Sam’s Club made getting the truck possible.
It will be used by volunteers at BNOC to glean offerings from local venues, including Kroger, Sav-a-lot and Aldi’s.
BNOC volunteers distribute food on Wednesday to Grace Episcopal Church. On Thursday Catholic Charities gets the food.
Morgan said the Food Bank wanted to identify 10 resource centers as potential partners. BNOC was the first one identified, she said.
She said doing retail pick-ups is a fairly new enterprise for the agency, but Bellville is not new at doing this kind of work.
Morgan said the work of BNOC makes 300,000 meals a year available.
She that is “incredible.”
Morgan said one problem is “keeping local donations local.” These donations are going to be retained in Richland County, said Morgan.
Statistics show 15.8 per cent of the population in Richland County is food insecure.
The refrigerated truck rolled into the parking at 10:30 a.m.
Matt Merendino, of BNOC, said his group is “excited.” He said it was a “big effort for us” and people are happy they can provide more meals.
BNOC is 100 per cent “volunteer driven,” he said.
To the crowd, he said: “Thanks for being a part of us.”
Village administrator Larry Weirich said he and mayor Teri Brenkus “thank the (Cleveland Food ) bank and BNOC for the great job they have done.”
Brenkus could not attend because of a previous commitment.
Morgan said BNOC has a mobile food pantry, a “back pack for kids” program, and senior boxes providing food to persons over 60. Carol Heoflich, of BNOC, said 35 boxes a month are delivered.
Informatioin the Food Bank provided said the Walmart Foundation has been a leading supporter of infrastructure grants to Feeding America food banks and their member agencies. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provide donations of both food and funds to the Feeding America nationwide network of 200 food banks. Since 2009, the Walmart Foundation has given $1,678,140 to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank for various programs such as SNAP Outreach, agency support, general produce, retail donations, and senior programs.
The information says food insecurity remains high throughout the country, and the ability to distribute more food is critical for food banks. According to the USDA, more than 42 million people nationwide are food insecure, which means that they may not know where they will find their next meal. In Richland County, more than 43,000 people are eligible for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s services.
The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in Northeast Ohio, having made possible over 55 million meals in 2017 to hungry people in Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Ashland and Richland counties. The Food Bank’s mission is to ensure that everyone in communities has the nutritious food they need every day. They do that through both food distribution and SNAP outreach efforts.
Reach Swartzwalder at firstname.lastname@example.org