XENIA — As the Xenia Area Fish Food Pantry continues to serve more Greene County families, the organization is counting on the community for assistance.
Food pantry operations will move from the 2,200-square-foot location at 541 Ledbetter Road to a 7,200-square-foot facility at 774 Cincinnati Avenue. The move will begin in November, fully transitioning to the new space by March 30, 2020.
“We have outgrown our current location,” Gail Matson, the pantry’s president, said. “We added 662 new families in 2018.”
Last year, the pantry in Xenia served 7,874 families — or 24,646 people — which equates to 221,814 meals, according to the president.
Matson said the pantry continues to serve about 650 to 700 families per month.
“We have worked diligently to cut expenses for the past two years and to utilize the Dayton Foodbank more to provide better food choices for those in need,” Matson said, adding that the food bank contributed 350,000 pounds of food last year.
With the increase in families served — and food — comes the need for more room for storage.
The new space — currently inhabited by Greene County Parks & Trails until their new facility is complete — will require a lot of work, Matson added, to make it food safe before occupancy.
“And then we’ll have a fantastic space,” Matson said.
Renovations for the facility — which consists of garages, a kitchen, some offices and storage space — include exterior paint, new windows and garage doors, and resurfacing plans. There’s also green space potential for future community gardens.
“With the engineer’s design and the building department’s requirements, our total budget is upwards of $170,000. With grants and our contribution right now, we are at $105,000,” Matson said. “Grants that have not been awarded yet but applied for are around $40,000.”
In May, the county commissioners recommended $62,600 for awarding to the pantry through the Community Development Block Grant program, with final approval to be made by the Ohio Development Services Agency.
The president explained that there is still a need not only for the improvements to the building — but also for the ongoing expenses the pantry will incur when they move. This totals to about $13,000 yearly for utilities, upkeep and security.
“These are costs that we have really never had to pay before,” Matson explained. “Here, the county has provided us with an expense-free home. Since 1993 they have taken care of us. They need this space.”
County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said the county plans to utilize the vacant space for various purposes, including by the Board of Elections for storage.
Matson is aiming to raise $75,000 to cover the renovations and future expenses. But she says she can’t do it without community help.
Residents can help by making a donation, volunteering at the pantry, sending grant opportunities to the president, or attending one of the upcoming fundraisers — like the dinner to be held 5-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9 at the Xenia Adult Recreation Center.
Other fundraisers are in the works, including trivia nights and a dinner in the fall.
Matson said residents who would like to help in any way can call her at 937-219-3628.
Currently, families can visit the pantry once every three weeks. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“We are always in need of volunteers,” Matson said. “We need about 115 volunteers who serve four hours a month. We are drastically in need right now.”
When the new facility opens, hours may change.
Contact this reporter at 937-502-4498.