Needless to say, 2020 was an extremely busy year for the North Royalton Food Pantry. While many people in our city may have been aware of the Food Pantry, it was the first time that they may have needed to ask for help because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit, we went from adding five new clients a month to five-to-seven clients a week,” said Terry Close, Mission and Ministry Manager at Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church, where the North Royalton Food Panty is located. “At the start of 2020, we routinely served 100 clients a month. Now we serve between 190 and 200 clients a month.”
Terry emphasizes that it’s not the same 200 clients every month. “Some clients tell us that they’re okay this month, and to give the food to those who are struggling more than me.”
In order to serve the increased number of clients, the community of North Royalton, the city, the churches, the schools and residents have stepped up to help our neighbors in need.
Keep in mind, in order to get food from the North Royalton Food Pantry, you must be a North Royalton resident. All of this means that there are a lot of North Royalton citizens who need help.
The City provides a huge help to the North Royalton Food Pantry. “The City supports us in picking up and bringing to us large orders of food that we, in turn, pack for distribution. Without the City’s support, we would not be able to do what we do,” said Terry. “In addition, there are a lot of civic organizations that donate to us in the form of cash gifts or in the form of strong arms and backs.”
The Lions Club is one organization of many that has stepped up and helped the Food Pantry pack and distribute food for the last several distributions. “Without that help, it would be next to impossible for Royal Redeemer to do this work. Because of COVID, we are largely closed to walk-in traffic. Without people and groups offering to help, we couldn’t do what we do,” said Terry.
There are other donors who help the Food Pantry in ways that you may not think of. “We need strong boxes to pack food into so that they don’t fall apart when we put them into cars. Those come at a cost. We’re working with Home Depot in Strongsville. We need lots of boxes and we need to have them delivered to us. Home Depot also found us anonymous donors to offset the cost of those boxes,” said Terry.
Close says that in the past, the Food Pantry saw a lot of senior citizens among their clients. While they still serve those seniors, their household size has changed with adult children and their families moving back in because of COVID.
Terry says what strikes her the most are people who reach out to the Food Pantry for the very first time. “Most come with some reluctance saying they have never done anything like this before. They just lost a job that they had for 25 years. Many tell me that they are overwhelmed and are not prepared for this.”
How can the people of North Royalton help the Food Pantry?
“Canned goods and toiletries can always be dropped off at Royal Redeemer Church (at the corner of Abbey and Royalton Roads). We have bins in a covered area. We monitor that a couple times a day and folks are always dropping items off. Monetary gifts can be mailed to the church made out to the North Royalton Food Pantry or to Royal Redeemer Church with the words Food Pantry in the memo line. The money is used to buy perishable items such as eggs, butter, milk and cheese. Many folks need paper products as well.”
While Terry Close’s job sounds all encompassing, she enjoys working in a community that cares so much for their neighbors. “North Royalton people, civic groups and businesses look to lift up their neighbors, either people they know or don’t know. As we move into 2021, I hope we keep that community feel that we have by helping each other. It can be just as simple as buying a second box of cereal and dropping it off at the church or shoveling the walk for an elderly neighbor.”
For more information about the Food Pantry, call (440) 237-7958.
Contributing Writer