BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — It’s the season of giving; and schools, businesses and individuals are doing the best they can to support their community, but at places like Under One Roof Food Pantry, the giving season never ends.
Under One Roof Food Pantry is a collaborative effort between Maumee churches, local agencies, the local schools and private donors to provide necessities for families who need extra support.
Jane Music, a volunteer and member of the advisory council with Under One Roof, said the food drives held by local organizations are very important as they help the pantry provide much-needed support during a time of increased need.
“The last two months, our usage has gone up. During the month of September, we saw a jump. We had 14 new families and in October, we saw another 10 new families join us,” Music said. “The numbers just keep on going up.”
Many families, Music speculated, are having difficulty making ends meet due to rising costs in the grocery store, at the gas station and elsewhere.
The food pantry allows those families to stop in and collect food and hygiene items they might need when their supply begins to run low, especially at the end of the month.
“It can help them close the gap,” Music said. “We try to give them a balanced diet. We have meat, bread, vegetables, fruit, dairy products, eggs, cereal, pasta, canned goods. We also have hygiene items. We want our clients to feel good about themselves, so we offer those hygiene items.”
It’s the goal of the food pantry to help its clients meet as many of their needs as possible. Volunteers can even provide more information about other important resources, including home repairs, help with utilities, clothes and more.
Under One Roof Food Pantry has a limited amount of money available to help with those who need immediate assistance for utilities, Music said. St. Timothy’s in Perrysburg also has a Clothesline Community Outreach program that provides new or clean, gently used clothes for everyone in need.
“We really try to meet as many of their needs as we can,” Music said.
One of the challenges the food pantry faces, though, is size. It can be difficult to store all of the donations at the pantry, so the staff encourages those who want to help out to consider all of the options available.
“We have PayPal, which can allow people to make donations electronically, so that’s another way they can give,” Music said. “They can also give by volunteering.”
Volunteers are asked to spend approximately four hours a month helping at the pantry, Music said. Having extra volunteers ensures the pantry has enough people to organize the donations, answer phone calls and assist clients.
“Our volunteers are the best people. They’re just a wonderful, giving group of people. We have a lot of fun together,” Music said.
Those who do wish to donate food or hygiene items are asked to arrange a drop-off time with the volunteers by calling the food pantry at (419) 794-0111.
Donations can also be made while shopping at Meijer in Maumee, Music said.
“Right now, the Maumee Meijer store is running a Simply Give campaign for us. When you go to the store, you can pick up one of the Simply Give cards at checkout. They add $10.00 on to your order, and then all of those donations are given to us at the end of the year in the form of Meijer gift cards. That gets us through the part of the year where we run low,” Music explained.
The Seagate Food Bank also provides assistance to the food pantry and the guidelines provided by Seagate are what determines who is eligible at Under One Roof Food Pantry.
“It goes by income, but they have recently upped the income levels because of the increase in food prices. Some families who may not have been eligible before might be eligible now. If a family wants to access our services, all it takes is a phone call. The phone number is (419) 794-0111,” Music said.
Families are asked to leave a name and phone number for volunteers to contact them. Applications can then be handled over the phone. There are no zip code restrictions to access the pantry, as it is Under One Roof’s goal to serve as many who need assistance as possible, Music said. After scheduling their first visit, families will then be able to take home their orders.
While the pantry is handicapped-accessible, Music said there are multiple reasons someone may not be able to go to the pantry, so they may designate a proxy who can pick up their order, which the volunteers are able to put together for them.
“This time of the year, people are very generous to us. With the holiday season, it’s kind of like the season of giving, so we see a lot of schools, individuals and companies having food drives and sharing that with us. That’s wonderful because there’s an increased need,” Music said.
Students at St. Joseph collected peanut butter and jelly for the food pantry and delivered more than 2,000 jars to the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church location in Maumee.
The DECA chapter at Maumee High School organized a food drive for the eighth annual Harvest for Hunger and encouraged students in their fourth period classes to bring in necessary food items on November 1-3. Items were then donated to Under One Roof Food Pantry.
Each donation of food, hygiene item, time or money makes a difference, Music said.
Many local businesses will also be collecting for area food banks and supporting those in need. The Seagate Food Bank, whose services Under One Roof Food Pantry uses, has several programs available on its website at seagatefoodbank.org, which lists ways to donate.
For more information on how to donate, get involved or receive assistance from Under One Roof Food Pantry, information is available by calling (419) 794-0111, on the website at stpaulsmaumee.org/789-2/ or by visiting the Under One Roof Food Pantry Facebook page.