by Mark Powell
The end of the year means high need and limited supplies for the Northside Common Ministries Food Bank on Brighton Road.
But this year, a group of Northsiders is trying to combat the food shortage by forming an advisory committee, called The Northside Food Pantry Advisers, in the hopes of leveraging each member’s connections and special skills to ensure that the food bank has the supplies it needs.
“Every November and December is bigger than the year before,” said NFP member Darlene Rushing. “We need to help our neighbors.”
The Northside Food Pantry Advisers started as a small group of neighbors helping out at the food bank. It has now grown to near 50 members, all of whom are looking to help out in any way possible.
Rushing sees the food pantry as part of the community, which is why neighbors feel they need to respond to this challenge.
“We all know that money and time are resources that only some of us have, but we need both of those,” said Rushing.
The NFP also needs volunteers for more indirect roles with the food pantry, like finding locations to host events and fundraisers.
“Everyone knows somebody,” said Rushing. “We need those connections.”
The NSCM food bank, located on Brighton Road, is one of the largest in the county and serves more than 1,000 people per month in the fall and winter.
For the past several years, October through December have been tough months for the NSCM food bank, due to a growing need and shrinking federal and state funding.
The NSCM sees a 30 percent increase in customers in winter months, which cause the food bank to run low on supplies some Northside residents need.
“Many people do not realize that toilet tissue, paper towels, pet food and laundry detergent are not accessible through food stamps and are always in need by food pantry customers,” said NSCM director Jay Poliziani, who said back to school costs, holiday spending and utilities contribute to the shortage.
This year three food banks in the area closed, so NSCM will face an unprecedented number of customers that exceeds any in its history.
“There is no Government support for the local or neighborhood food pantries,” said Poliziani. “As such we must do fundraising to secure enough money to buy the products we need to purchase for the pantry.”
Rushing said that the NFP could reach their goal of eliminating any food bank shortages this winter. The next month will be critical in determining whether or not the food pantry will be able to give supplies out to its customers over the holidays.
“It’s dependent upon our ability to share the story of the food pantry,” said Rushing. “If we get community support, then we will achieve our goal.”
This year the advising board realizes that the need for food and supplies is stronger than ever with the closing of the nearby Presley Street Hi-Rise Food Pantry on the Northside.
With the demand for supplies so high, the food bank is always looking for volunteers.
To get involved, contact the NSCM food bank at 412-323-1163.