Scouts assist food bank

SMITHFIELD – The Smithfield Friends Food Pantry receives shipments twice a month from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

Twice a month, that’s 20 pallets and 20,000 pounds of food products that need unloaded off a semi, taken into the basement of the Smithfield Evangelical Friends Church and sorted.

The pantry, run by church member Stan Dombroski and 30-35 volunteers, is always looking for a hand, especially with the trucks.

Tuesday, that hand was extended by four members of Boy Scouts Troop 14 from Mt. Pleasant.

While their peers were likely enjoying their last weeks of their summer vacation by sleeping in, Ethan Boroski, Stanley Leput, Sean Lee and Lukas Dickerson were up bright and early, working to unload box after box from the back of the truck.

“They need their service hours for their rank review,” said Scoutmaster John Lee. “They’ve volunteered at Dillonvale and Mt. Pleasant’s food banks as well.”

Lee is a member of the Smithfield church, but noted it was his son Sean’s idea to lend a hand here Tuesday morning.

It was the troop’s first time assisting the Smithfield pantry. It likely won’t be the last.

The Smithfield Friends Pantry has been servicing residents in a 10-mile radius for 13 years.

The pantry distributes food boxes to needy families once a month, along with a produce giveaway each Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

Emergency assistance is provided any time.

Dombroski noted there are two food box pickup days, depending on how long the residents are willing to wait.

“We make generic food boxes up that people can come in and pick up right away,” Dombroski said. “The next day is our choice pantry day, where they can choose whatever they like, but it sometimes can take a while.”

Dombroski stated that two people can go through the pantry at a time, so on the choice days, a person could wait a few hours in line before selecting the food they wish to take home.

The generic boxes are set up for people and families who may not be able to spend half the day at the church.

The ‘choice’ pantry day is the second Tuesday of the month from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. The generic day is the second Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Around 150 people come and wait for the choice pantry day, while an additional 100 show up for the generic boxes.

That’s 250 families each month that are serviced. The number of families has risen the last few years, from 239 in 2012 and 211 in 2011. Fortunately, Dombroski noted, the 250 mark seems to have leveled off the last few months or so. He’s hoping that’s a good sign.

The number of families in need is a far cry from the original seven or so that needed assistance when the pantry first began.

Along with the volunteers, Dombroski noted the group relies heavily on assistance from The United Way and the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

In addition to food distribution, the Trinity Mobile vehicle makes monthly stops at the pantry, offering to check blood pressure, do blood sugar screenings and performing other health checkups.

The Ohio State University also sends a nutritionist who puts on short seminars and informational discussions on everything from nutrition to food safety.

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