Friday, March 20, 2009

From Gleanings to Food Pantries: Plant a Row to Feed the Hungry in Central Ohio

Verse 22 of Chapter 23 of the Book of Leviticus in the Bible provides: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger . . . .”

I’m pretty sure that few people now leave gleanings in their gardens for the poor or strangers and I’m equally sure that the law now frowns on strangers and others trespassing through our gardens and fields to scavenge for food. However, today we have food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens to distribute our “gleanings” and other produce from our gardens and fields. As I described in Plant a Garden; Save the World – At Least It’s a Start, we can plant a row or more in our gardens and donate that produce to pantries, shelters and kitchens to feed our less fortunate neighbors and free up non-profit resources for other compelling needs. In Central Ohio, there are a number of agencies which accept garden produce on behalf of their clients and will put it to good use for you. Whether or not you garden with us on Stoddart Avenue, here are details about how you can participate:

Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry. Go to the front door of 1460 South Champion Avenue to drop off the produce. (There’s also a dock at the side if you have a lot). They have refrigerators available to store any excess.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 (They told me 4:30 p.m. in March, but I learned in September that they lock the doors and stop answering it at 3 because I stopped by at 3:20 p.m. and no one would take my tomatoes). I also do not recommend stopping by during the lunch hour because the paid staff may be gone and you will be told to wait until they return or to come back later for a receipt.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Preferably sorted, but is not required. Is a good idea to weigh the produce beforehand if you want a receipt.
Provides tax receipts. Please have it weighed and have the donor’s name and address available in writing. It's quicker if you bring two copies so that they can keep one and you can take one. However, they have a copier there. They also like you to sign their donation book.
For more information: Call Manager Dave Drom or Assistant Manager Wayne at 443-5130.

Faith Mission. Donations can be made at two locations.
1) 599 East 8th Avenue near the fairgrounds. Go to the front door.
2) The Shelter at Long and Sixth Streets downtown. Turn left at the Lafayette Alley and knock on the first door on the left.
Hours: Monday – Sunday 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
Will take anything except pumpkins.
Sorting: Preferably sorted, but need not be bagged. Is a good idea to weigh the produce beforehand if you want a receipt.
Provides tax receipts. Please have it weighed and have the donor’s name and address available in writing. They have their own forms that they will want to fill out while you wait. They were out of the receipt forms when I stopped by in September.
For more information: Ask for Mr. Taylor or any cook in the kitchen. Phone: 224-6617.

Community Kitchen. This is the first soup kitchen in Columbus. Donations can be made at the rear of the building at 640 South Ohio Street.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Will take anything except eggplant, unusual herbs, peas, chard, and turnips. They prefer bulk amounts so that they can make a whole dish out of it. Smith Farms regularly donates food here.
Sorting: Preferably sorted, but need not be bagged .
Provides tax receipts.
For more information: Ask for Marilyn Oberting at 252 6428. Check out their website at They served almost 105,000 meals in 2008 and are ahead of that pace so far in 2009.

Holy Name Soup Kitchen. Donations can be made at 57 South Grubb Street (off West Broad Street). Go to the front door. There is a blue cart by the door.
Hours: Monday – Friday 6:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. You may need to pound on the door after 12:30 because that’s when the doors are locked.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Not necessary.
Provides tax receipts. Can be provided if you wait or it will be mailed to you (if you provide names and addresses).
For more information: Phone: 224-6617. Rumor has it that Holy Name is currently serving 1400 lunches each day.

Mid-Ohio Food Bank. Donations can be made at 1625 West Mound Street until they move into their new location this Fall.
[Editor's Note:] MOFB is now located at 3960 Brookham Drive in Grove City. Take I-71 South to the Stringtown Road/Exit 100 and turn right. Take the very first right onto Marlanne Drive. You will pass Brookham Drive to the left and then turn left past the large Agency sign. Pull up to the four garage doors and go into the regular/entry door to the left of those doors to tell them that you have a produce donation. They will help you unload your car, weigh your produce and give you a receipt.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Not necessary, but they prefer that the food be delivered in banana boxes (which you can get from your friendly local grocer) or empty copy paper boxes.
Provides tax receipts. MOFB will weigh your donation on the spot and give you a receipt.
For more information: Call Lori Coleman at 274-7770. When MOFB moves into their new, much larger warehouse this fall, they will have a clean room for processing produce, etc. They will also have 14 acres upon which they are considering an urban farm with greenhouses and everything. They will need lots of volunteers if they ultimately pursue that project.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Center. This is a food pantry at 441 Industry Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43204. This is a little tricky because there is no street sign. It is located in the Valley View Commerce Park of office buildings. It is a one-story, long white building across the street from the ODFJS West Opportunity Center.
Hours: Wednesday– Thursday 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays: 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Preferably sorted and bagged separately.
Provides tax receipts. You’ll have to fill out the receipt yourself, so it would be a good idea to weigh your produce before dropping it off.
For more information or to schedule a drop-off: Call Lucy Cormier at 340-7061. The population served by the Center is mostly Latino and Hispanic.

LifeCare Alliance a/k/a Meals on Wheels a/k/a Groceries To Go a/k/a Cancer Clinic a/k/a Project Open Hand. Life Care Alliance has recently consolidated the food pantry operations of the Cancer Clinic and Project Open Hand. It also runs Congregational Dining Centers and Carrie’s Café for ambulatory senior citizens (who do not yet need meals on wheels). Donations can be made 670 Harmon Avenue. Use the pantry entrance between the two handicapped parking spaces. It’s best to call ahead.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday – Friday 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Will take anything.
Sorting: Not necessary, but helpful and they prefer that it be washed
Provides tax receipts. Will mail receipts. At drop off, donations should be identified by donor's name and address, product being donated and weight of each product.
For more information: Contact Shelly Wojtylko, the Groceries To Go Coordinator for LifeCare Alliance. She works at 670 Harmon Avenue, Columbus, OH 43223 and can be reached at or 614-298-8334.

South Side Settlement House. 310 Innis Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43207
Hours: Monday – Thursday 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
Will take anything, except lettuce, pumpkins, chard and radishes
Sorting: Preferably sorted, bagged and washed, but is not required.
Provides tax receipts. Please have donors names available and receipts will be provided upon request on the spot.
For more information: Call Dorothy McKay at 444-9868.

NNEMAP Food Pantry. 1064 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio. (In the Short North. In an abandonned Church at the corner of High and Third. It is in the basement of the same building of Directions for Youth. When coming from the parking lot, you will take the door to the basement which does not have a number or butterfly on it. There is a white bell which you can ring for assistance).
Hours: Monthly 1st-20th: M-W-F 8:45 a.m. - noon. Monthly 20th-31st: M-F 8:45 a.m. - noon.
Will Take: anything.
Sorted: Not necessary
Provides tax receipts: Upon request. Please have value ready to be inserted.
For more information: Call Yvonne at 297-0533.

This list is not exhaustive and will be updated as additional information is provided. Feel free to let me know if you have information about other organizations which take garden produce and I will add them.

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