Needy in Strongsville: Food Bank Still Seeing Demand
Hundreds stop by monthly for a few bags of help
The shelves at the Strongsville Emergency Food Bank look pretty well stocked with cans of soup, jars of jelly.
It looks like it would be enough to, well, feed a hungry community.
But no, not nearly.
"We're actually running kind of low right now," said Kelly Kling, coordinator of the pantry.
Each month, hundreds of Strongsville residents depend on the food bank to supply them with essentials -- cereal, canned vegetables, paper products, peanut butter.
"We also give out gift cards (for groceries) when we can," Kling said.
Right now, 257 families are registered with the pantry, located in a small building at 13200 Pearl Rd., adjacent to Center Middle School.
The good thing is, that number is down from a few years ago, when it topped 300. The bad news is, it's not getting any smaller.
Figures kept by Kling show the Food Bank distributed groceries to 166 families in February, helping 277 adults and 164 kids make it through the month.
During 2011, monthly distributions ranged from 151 to 202; the highest demand in recent years was in December 2010, when 301 adults and 220 kids benefitted from the Food Bank.
About 5 percent of Strongsville households live below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census.
Keeping the shelves stocked is a never-ending task for the volunteers who staff the food bank.
"We never turn anybody away," Kling said. "But we can only give them what we have."
Summer is the worst time of year for the food bank because so many of the local organizations that hold food drives schedule them for the winter holidays.
Still, dozens of groups and individuals make it a point to give food or cash to the food bank on a regular basis.
"This community is so great," Kling said. "They always step up."
And so do the volunteers who keep the food bank running. Neither Kling nor any of the people who show up to organize donations and fill grocery bags is paid a cent.
"I love helping others," shrugged Kling, who is in her third year as coordinator.
Her assistants say she keeps the operating humming.
"This is the most organized food pantry," said volunteer Mike Nichols. "She pours herself into it."
The food bank is open from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. weekdays and the second Saturday of each month.
To register, families must show proof of residence and income. For more information, call 440-846-0197.