April 25, 2014

Elyria
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Second Harvest Food Bank rolls out mobile food pantry in South Elyria

Volunteer Lila Taylor, center, and Julie Chase-Morefield, right, executive director at Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, distribute boxes of holiday food Tuesday at Original Church of God in Elyria. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Volunteer Lila Taylor, center, and Julie Chase-Morefield, right, executive director at Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, distribute boxes of holiday food Tuesday at Original Church of God in Elyria. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Second Harvest Food Bank searched for some time to find an organization it could partner with to provide a mobile food pantry in South Elyria similar to one it has helped run in South Lorain for nearly two years.

Now, with the help of the Original Church of God, residents of south Elyria will benefit once a month from a mobile food pantry.

“We tried to find a partner in the area for a long time,” according to Julie Chase-Morefield, executive director of Second Harvest, who said the food bank recently reached agreement with the Original Church of God to begin distributing food from the Edwards Avenue church.

“We know this is a severely underserved area where there’s a lot of poverty,” Chase-Morefield said as she helped bag up wrapped turkey-hams, which were handed out along with bags of potatoes, apples, and boxes that contained potato flakes, egg noodles, yams, gravy, stuffing and peaches.

Among those who stood in line inside the church to get in out of Tuesday’s chill and snow-flurries to pick up food was April Smith, who came with a relative from her 10th Street home to take advantage of the inaugural mobile food pantry distribution.

Julie Chase-Moorefield, right, executive director at Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio,  distributes boxes of holiday food Tuesday.

Julie Chase-Moorefield, right, executive director at Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, distributes boxes of holiday food Tuesday.

Smith, who has just started working part-time as a substitute food service cafeteria worker for the Elyria Schools, is hopeful of seeing her hours grow into a fulltime job soon.

In the meantime, food for a holiday meal will be put to very good use.

“I have two kids and my fiancé has three, so this comes at a good time,” Smith said, noting as did others the impact of recent cuts in food stamps, which have weakened the buying power of households that were already hard-pressed to provide enough food for their families.

“People are strapped for cash and everybody needs food,” Smith said.

A total of 168 Thanksgiving dinner boxes, plus bags of potatoes and apples were prepared, although as of about 5 p.m. fewer than a quarter had been distributed. The mobile pantry remained open until 6 p.m.

The Elyria effort is similar to one Second Harvest sponsors in South Lorain that serves more than 300 families through El Centro de Social Services.

Both Algood and Chase-Morefield said there is a possibility the Elyria mobile food pantry dates could increase depending on demand.

“We are all one step away from being homeless or out of food,” Algood said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.