Thursday, July 7, 2011

Plant a Row to Feed the Hungry By Donating Garden Produce to Food Pantries

As you have read here in 2009 and 2010, there are a number of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in Columbus which accept fresh garden produce to feed their clients. In fact, it is healthier for their clients to receive fresh produce because canned food has a lot of salt and other preservatives. In addition, you can receive a tax deduction for your donation – which will be handy next April. A recent national report showed that 1/4 American families went hungry for at least one meal in 2010 and that Columbus ranked 31st in the nation.

Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry. They suggest that you go to the front door of 1460 South Champion Avenue to drop off the produce. (There’s also a dock at the side of the building where there will be less chance that you’ll be confused as a client and asked to wait in line by the constantly revolving volunteers who staff the pantry. I always go in the side door). They have refrigerators available to store any excess.
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays 1-3pm. 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. If they run out of receipts (which has not happened yet this year), you can have them sign your own. In that case, it's quicker if you bring two copies of your pre-prepared receipt 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. [Editor's Note: NBC4 recently reported that this pantry served approximately 8000 families in July 2011].

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 (i.e., 151 North Sixth). Turn left at the Lafayette Alley. If the kitchen dock is not open (which is where there is usually someone washing something who can take your produce right from your idling car), knock on the first door on the left. Faith Mission is the only location in Columbus that serves three free meals every day. [Editor's Note: The Columbus Dispatch reported on March 8, 2012 that Faith Mission was serving 500 meals every night and, although the shelter serves single adults, more children are coming, too. While the need has incrased 25% over the prior year, the food donations have decreased by 24%].
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 sometimes (i.e., usually) run out of receipt forms, so it’s a good idea to bring your own to have them sign.
For more information: Ask for Todd Swayer or any cook in the kitchen. Phone: 774-7726 or the front desk at 224-6617. If you get an answering machine, it may tell you to contact Glen Kemp, but he has gone to live with the Lord.

Salvation Army. 966 East Main Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205. This is the closest food pantry to the SACG that I know of. You should park on the side and go to the front door. The pantry is just to the right of the front door. It is very, large, sparkling clean, and relatively empty.
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Will take anything.
Sorting: They prefer the items to be sorted/bagged by type.
Provides tax receipts upon request at the front desk.
For more information, call Euri at 358-2626.

Bishop Griffin Center---St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, 2875 E. Livingston Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43209 -- one block west of James Rd. at the corner of Wellesley Rd. and Livingston. There is parking along Wellesley Road. This pantry is very, very small.
Hours: 9 a.m until noon on Wednesdays and 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays
Will take anything
Sorting: Does not have to be sorting or bagged.
Provides tax receipts upon request.
For more information, contact Marge at

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

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: 461-9444. Holy Name is currently serving approximately 1200 lunches each day.

Mid-Ohio Food Bank. Donations can be made at its new location 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.

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 Alma Santos at 340-7061. The population served by the Center is mostly Latino and Hispanic. They are also accepting donations of clothing (particularly children’s clothes) and household items.

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 (which serves the HIV community). It also runs Congregational Dining Centers and Carrie’s CafĂ© 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. (There are staff there on Tuesdays, but they are usually stocking shelves and unloading trucks).
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 Maurice Elder or Chuck Walters at 670 Harmon Avenue, Columbus, OH 43223 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 Vivian Crowder at 444-9868.

NNEMAP Food Pantry. 1064 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio. (In the Short North. In an abandoned 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 (which is on the north side of the building), you can take a door to the basement on the east side of the building which does not have a number or butterfly on it. There is a white bell on this door on the east side of the building which you can ring for assistance, but you should come down to the basement on the west side of the building).
Hours: Monthly 1st-19th: M-W-F 8:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Monthly 20th-31st: M-F 8:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Will Take: anything.
Sorted: Not necessary, but it would be nice to have it bagged and sorted.
Provides tax receipts: Upon request. Please have value ready to be inserted.
For more information: Call Roy Clark (an old friend) at 297-0533.

Broad Street Presbyterian Food Pantry, 760 East Broad Street (at the corner of Broad and Garfield -- about 2 blocks east of I-71. There is parking in the back).
Hours: 9- noon Monday through Friday (but arrangements can be made to open at 8 a.m.) and on Saturdays from 8:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Will take: anything, especially greens and tomatoes
Sorted: not necessary
Provides tax receipts upon request
For more information: call Cathy at 203-2544. The pantry serves approximately 100 families/week.

Neighborhood Services, Inc. 1950 North Fourth Street (at the corner of 18th Avenue).
Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Will take: anything
Sorted: not necessary
Provides tax receipt: by mail 10-14 days later upon request
For more information: Call Cheryl at 297-0592 or email at This pantry serves about 25 families each day.

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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