Holiday season brings greater demand on YWCA food pantry

Everyone needs food, and this time of year, food is in greater need than ever. The combination of cold weather and the holiday gatherings associated with Thanksgiving, Christmas and other events means that many families are in greater need than ever.

Lynn Stranz, program director of the YWCA food pantry in Batavia, said that the pantry is in greater need than ever for donations to help these families eat like they should.

“Since colder weather is coming, what we need now are things like hearty soups, meats, and cheese,” said Stranz. “At Thanksgiving time, the kids will be home a couple of days from school, and at Christmas they are home two weeks. People will need more food because the kids won’t be getting school lunches.”

The food pantry serves thousands of area families, providing them with monthly food donations that help the family not only stay nutritionally sound, but financially stable. While the pantry can’t provide every food need, the monthly pickups can go a long way towards defraying some of the monthly bills faced by local low-income families, which helps them in turn afford things like gas money to get to work. And while the pantry doesn’t supply holiday meals themselves, they can help the family to afford their own by providing other meals.

“Our pantry relies on donations,” said Stranz. “Right now, we try to help supplement with other food so people can afford to buy a thanksgiving meal. The need is greater because the cost of gas is going up, and they need gas for work, so they let their food budget go.”

According to Stranz, the pantry serves between 35 and 50 families from Clermont County and part of Brown County every day. And while the pantry receives lots of food from other food charities, such as the Free Store, the perception that all they receive is free is not accurate. Stranz said that they pay for most of their food, but they pay a greatly reduced amount for it.

“People need to bring identification and sign a paper stating that they are below income guidelines,” said Stranz. “We buy almost all of our food from the Free Store. Just because the name says free store doesn’t mean it’s necessarily free. We do pay a small price for it. We get USDA food free, but we pay a maintenance fee of 10 cents a pound. Last year, we got 700,000 pounds of food, so that was $7,000 we had to pay for food we get free. We get money donations and put it towards that.”

While the food pantry does accept food donations, a greater gift would be monetary, as the pantry’s ability to purchase large quantities of food cheaper than the average citizen can means that the same amount of money goes a lot farther. However, local groups can also opt to hold food drives and then present the results to the pantry.

“We’ve had several schools do food drives,” said Stranz. “Last month, some kids did a trick or treat so kids could eat drive. Different groups and organizations do drives and that helps us out. If people bring us money, it helps because we can stretch it out further. Where you would pay full price, I can pay much less. Where you can buy one box of cereal, I could almost buy a case. Money donations go a lot further.”

The food pantry is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. For more information, call (513) 732-0450.