Food pantries are found in most neighborhoods in Columbus if you know where to look. The larger faith-based organizations – Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services – have several locations around Columbus, but many individual churches and ministries offer their own food pantries.
There are two quick resources available to Columbus residents in need of emergency food. By dialing 2-1-1 from a land line or a cell phone you can be connected to HandsOn Central Ohio’s (formerly FIRSTLink) Foodline and be directed to the nearest food pantry or soup kitchen. ColumbusBenefitsInfo provides a quick list of food pantry locations and contact information.
Most of the food pantries in Columbus are kept stocked with donations from individuals and the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. The Mid-Ohio Food Bank serves a 20-county area with more than 500 agencies providing over 47,000 meals every day. With corporate food donations, MOFB is able to turn every dollar that is donated into $8 dollars worth of food.
Every food pantry organization in Columbus has its own rules and practices. Some income requirements follow the federal poverty guidelines. Many pantries will provide enough food for every member of the household for three days and you can only receive assistance once every 30 days.
The Salvation Army in Greater Columbus operates four Choice Pantry model food pantries in Central Ohio. The Choice Pantry program allows the recipients to actually “shop” for their food following nutrition guidelines. The Salvation Army limits participation to once every 30 days.
Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio has two locations in Columbus and also operates a mobile food pantry. This mobile unit travels monthly to Southeast Ohio every week to assist some of this state’s most economically distressed counties.
For those who aren’t in need of assistance from food pantries but would like to help it is very easy – volunteers are always needed. The Mid-Ohio Food Bank has volunteer shifts to sort and re-pack food available Monday through Thursday and on Saturday. Lutheran Social Services makes use of volunteers to staff the food pantries, stock the shelves, accept donations and help the clients. The Salvation Army asks for volunteers to staff the food pantries in two-hour shifts.
Any of the food pantries in Columbus will gladly accept donations of money, food products and personal products. The most-needed food items on Lutheran Social Services list are canned pastas, fruits and vegetables; coffee, tea and presweetened drink mixes; and boxed side dishes. LSS also accept donations of diapers and personal care products.
Sources: HandsOn Central Ohio ; Columbus Benefits Info ; Mid-Ohio Food Bank ; Salvation Army
Lutheran Social Services