As part of the 2011 Feed Lake County Campaign, United Way of Lake County distributed more than $9,100 worth of food Wednesday to 51 food pantries across the county.
Overall, the 2011 Feed Lake County Campaign raised approximately 45,500 pounds of food and $60,000 in cash. Cash donations to Feed Lake County are used throughout the year to make purchases for the food pantries in September, November and December.
On Wednesday, Giant Eagle dropped off $9,159 worth of peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti sauce, spaghetti noodles, tuna, tuna helper, fruit cocktail and fruit juice to United Way of Lake County’s Mentor office. Volunteers from Lake House Men’s Residential distributed the items to the food pantries as they came to pick them up.
The majority of the food donations were distributed to food pantries in April as part of United Way of Lake County’s Second Annual Food Parade and Celebration.
“We gave out food to 132 different families just last month,” said Francine Vitale of Eastlake Area Kiwanis Food Pantry. “We get numerous calls every week from families saying they are out of food. United Way of Lake County is doing a phenomenal job of distributing food to the pantries and we really count on them for help.”
The food pantries continue to see an increase in numbers. Last year, more than 6,000 people used the food pantry system and between 700 and 1,100 residents needed help on a weekly basis. These food pantries report they are seeing 10 to 20 new visitors each week. Many first time social service clients are 40 to 50 years old, have lost their jobs, exhausted their benefits and are looking desperately for somewhere to turn.
“Pantries are in a crisis situation and they are in need of food,” said Gayle Sikula, administrative assistant at United Way of Lake County. “We normally do this distribution at the end of September, but we have been getting calls from the pantries saying they need food now.”United Way of Lake County always accepts food or cash donations, which can be sent to 9285 Progress Parkway, Mentor, OH 44060. Those in need of food can call 2-1-1 to be referred to a local food pantry.