Neighborhood food pantry
'there are so many hungry people' in our community
It was a fall day in 2009 when a man came walking through the front door of the Community Family Outreach Complex in Warren.
He walked up to Alicia Williamson and started to explain why he had come that day. It was a long story, he said. He had just suffered the loss of his wife and he was trying to raise his minor children while dealing with his own grief. He was making it until a week ago when he lost his job.
He told Williamson that he had nothing to feed his children and that he had to wait at least a week before he would be able to receive unemployment compensation. This is just one of many stories that Community Family Outreach Complex workers hear on a regular basis.
The man, unfortunately, is one of hundreds in Trumbull County who are going hungry and who fall through the cracks of various social service agencies.
The Neighborhood Food Pantry, launched in January 2009, is providing three days worth of emergency food assistance to 35 area families who are not already being served by another social service agency.
“There have been so many foreclosures, evictions, layoffs. Trumbull County has been off of the charts for unemployment,” Williamson said. “People who were middle-class or the working poor no longer can get the necessities they need. There are so many hungry people in our community.”
Williamson said the number of families who need help far exceeds their ability to deliver. She estimated that there are probably 125 families in Warren who need emergency food help.
The Neighborhood Food Pantry distributes food once a month, on the last Saturday of the month. They package up three to four days worth of meals, including meat or chicken entrees.
“We give breakfast, lunch and dinner and work with a nutritionist to try to make them as healthy as possible,” she said.
Williamson said the Neighborhood Food Pantry has not publicized its existence and instead, area social service agencies have referred people to it.
“We didn’t want to be in a position of turning people away since we didn’t have a lot of food on hand,” she said.
People cannot come back month after month. In fact, if someone receives assistance in April, Williamson said, they cannot come back in May.
The Neighborhood Food Pantry has received a $5,000 Neighborhood Success Grant from The Raymond John Wean Foundation and is also collecting donations from others in an attempt to increase its ability to serve Trumbull County residents who have nowhere else to turn for food.
“It’s a terrible feeling when there are 20 faces that you are looking at of people who are hungry and you don’t have any more food to offer them,” she said.
Williamson said she is haunted by many of the horror stories she has heard from people who come to the Neighborhood Food Pantry for assistance.
Recently, Community Family Outreach Complex was able to work with local social service agencies who deal with victims of domestic violence, the elderly, homeless and local churches to provide free turkeys and hot meals to those in need for the holiday season.