Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Dublin Food Pantry afloat during difficult transition
Volunteers play a key role during the pandemic
Dublin Life June/July 2020 | CityScene Media Group
Patricia Widerschein has spent three years on the Dublin Food Pantry Board.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every part of our lives — and the Dublin Food Pantry is no exception. However, Widerschein says the one constant has been dedicated volunteers.
“With only two staff members, our volunteer support teams are crucial,” she says.
However, because of safety guidelines, volunteers have to work a little differently. The entire operation was updated to limit the number of people working per shift. Widerschein notes that in 2019, the Dublin Food Pantry distributed more than 366,100 pounds of food. In 2020, that number not only increased, but it did so with far fewer volunteers.
Operations got even stranger with the addition of curbside pickup and everyone involved began wearing masks and gloves. The line-up of cars was monumental, as was the support from Dublin.
“Our community has traditionally supported us,” Widerschein says. “Many students, scouts, clubs and more have volunteered and donated over our 44 years in the community.”
Dublin City School students have always been involved with the pantry, but the schools got involved with the pantry in new ways.
The pantry’s leaders, Executive Director Denise Youngsteadt-Parrish and Operations Director Jim Wilson, weren’t just faced with new operating guidelines though. Suddenly, they had many more clients – clients who faced job insecurity and new stresses.
“Jobless claims in Ohio have been impacted profoundly,” Widerschein says.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, 139,685 Ohioans reported unemployment for the week of April 11. Four weeks later, that number spiked to 855,197 when non-essential businesses began to close.
“It’s humbling,” Widerschein says. “The work we do is personal and fulfilling to be helpful. Some of our shoppers have a loved one battling an illness that has tilted their whole world. Others confide that it is their first time to the pantry and they never thought they’d need one. Sometimes, there are tears. There is always gratitude.”
“Volunteering at the food pantry gives me a sense of purpose and joy – joy to help those who especially need it,” volunteer Barb Anderson says.
“We can feel confident we responded quickly with careful thought and compassion,” Youngsteadt-Parrish says. “We have support and friends everywhere. We are humbled, grateful and yes, tired.”
Widerschein wants to express the gratitude she and other pantry affiliates have for all of their volunteers.
“Essential means important, key, crucial. All of this is true about our volunteers during the pandemic,” she says. “The way our volunteers work cleaning, sorting, lifting and usually with a friendly chatter — it’s inspiring.”
How You Can Help
By Patricia Widerschein
As we adjust to changes in packing and sourcing at this time, financial donations are crucial. These donations will allow us to better access cleaning materials, boxes and needed items that can be harder to find now. To donate, please visit www.dublinfoodpantry.org.
How does curbside pickup work at Dublin Food Pantry?
Vehicles line up in the Dublin Food Pantry parking lot and a volunteer will complete shopper check-in without the shopper stepping out of the car. Prepackaged groceries will be loaded into your vehicle. This remain-in-the-car system allows for required social distancing as we strive to follow guidelines for maximum safety. Check-in requires a photo ID. No signature is required during COVID-19.
What are DFP curbside hours?
Mondays 5:30-7:15 p.m.
Tuesdays 10:00-11:45 a.m.
Thursdays 4:00-6:15 p.m.
We are here to connect you with food without judgement, curbside.
Where is Dublin Food Pantry?
We are located in Historic Dublin, Ohio at 81 W. Bridge St. on the lower level of Dublin Community Church. The location has not changed, and the same rear parking lot is now being used for vehicle drive-up to pick up.
What does Dublin Food Pantry provide?
During the COVID-19 crisis we are not a “choice” pantry. Instead, prepackaged groceries will be provided. This typically includes bread, frozen meat, bagged fresh produce, a variety of boxed non-perishable food and a variety of basic essentials. A volunteer will load the groceries into each shopper’s vehicle (curbside) to best maintain the six-foot distance guideline.
Mallory Arnold is an editor. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.