In a short time Thursday, about 30 volunteers went a long way to feeding the hungry for the Easter weekend.
Volunteers at Well-Help packed 143 boxes of food in about 15 minutes. Distributed Friday, the packages included bread, fruit cocktails, green beans, soup, and yams.
Clients will recieve a ham and fruit juice in addition to one box each of food, said Bernie Raab, Well-Help office coordinator.
Raab, hired in 2003, said the holiday distributions also occur on Thanksgiving and Christmas and have occurred annually for at least 25 years.
Raab is Well-Help’s only paid staffer — the nonprofit group is overseen by a 14-member board of directors — and she said she heavily relies on about 30 regular volunteers.
Among the regulars Thursday were Wellington firefighter Derick Oswald and his wife Theresa, their 11-year-old daughter Maile (prounounced Miley), and their daughter Lily, 10. Jackie Olson, Derick Oswald’s mother, also participated.
The family has been volunteering since 2011.
“We know there are a lot of families in need,” said Oswald, treasurer of the Wellington Firefighters Association, which frequently contributes to Well-Help.
Steve Smith was a first-time volunteer. He heard about the food drive via the Pittsfield Community Church, where he runs a youth group.
“It’s great,” said Smith who took two youth group members with him. “People should do more for the community.”
The distribution came at a time when demand at food pantries is high despite the economic upturn since the Great Recession, which spiked hunger in America.
In Lorain County, nearly 45,000 people, about 15 percent of the population, were defined as “food insecure” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013, according to a 2015 report by Feeding America.
Food insecurity means lacking regular access to enough food for an active, healthy life due to a lack of money. About 48.1 million Americans — 14 percent of U.S. households — were food insecure in 2014, according to the USDA.
Last year, Well-Help served 5,531 people (3,198 adults, 2,333 children) compared to 6,050 in 2014 (3,655 adults, 2,395 children), an 8.5 percent decrease.
Nonetheless, Raab said demand is up since the Great Recession ended in 2009.
Well-Help, located inside the First United Methodist Church, 127 Park Place, gets much of its food from the Second Harvest of North Central Ohio food bank.
However, Raab said the group also relies on donations of nonperishable food from local businesses and individuals and buys food at a discount from busineses such as supermarkets. She said food is sometimes left overnight outside the church.
Donation information can be obtained by calling Well-Help at 440-647-2689.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or GoodenowNews on Twitter.