There are many misconceptions about what the food bank actually is. Some think it is merely another pantry serving the public, similar to a soup kitchen or shelter where individuals go to seek help.The fact is we are not a pantry or soup kitchen or shelter. We are in fact the charity that PROVIDES the food to the pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. We collect donated product and store it in our 35,000 square foot facility. Most "pantries" do not have the space to store a truckload of potatoes, cereal, eggs, etc.
As an affiliate of Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest), we receive truck loads of donated product. We receive the product, unload, inventory, place on availability lists to our member charities in the eleven counties we service, and distribute the product according to the need and desire from each member charity.
With a freezer capacity of 5,000 square feet (able to hold 11 truckloads) and a refrigerated capacity of 2,500 square feet (able to hold 5 truckloads), we are able to accept larger donations than your local church pantry may be able to accommodate. Most local pantries have only a home-sized freezer and refrigerator. Without the food bank, these donations would most likely be turned down, thus giving the product to another region of the state.
Our ability to accept frozen and refrigerated products allows us to offer a better variety of nutritious foods to the pantries and soup kitchens in our service area.
Unfortunately, the donated product does not transport itself, unload or reload itself, cool or heat itself, or inventory itself. All of these areas cost money. In operating a 35,000 square foot facility, numerous monthly expenses are incurred. For example, an average household may be 1500-2000 square feet. Think about the cost of heating, and electricity for a normal house and multiply that several times over. To protect the product from freezing, we MUST heat the entire facility in the winter. We have substantial electric bills as well in order to operate our freezer and coolers.
To operate a facility of this size, we must have equipment such as stand-up fork lifts, regular fork lifts, and pallet jacks which can be costly when repairs are needed.
Another expense we face every month is a substantial loan payment for the purchase of our current facility.
We must also pay salaries for our staff. In 2011, we distributed over 6.4 million pounds of food with a staff of 16 full-time employees. How did we do that? Again, with the help from our community.
We operate with a bare minimum of paid staff to keep our expenses low. We are blessed to have many different groups volunteer their time and talents at the food bank.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life, church groups, the Department of Job and Family Services, municipal court, groups from local companies, senior citizens groups, etc. During the 2011 year, WOFB had 831 volunteers who committed 9,560 hours of their time.
Volunteers help with anything from everyday operations to special projects. Opportunities range from general cleaning, loading agency vehicles, and repacking bulk food to answering phones and helping with mailings.
Volunteers are wonderful, and we could never accomplish our mission without them, but they still need guidance and direction from a paid staff member.
If you'd like to volunteer as an individual or group, please call (419) 222-7946.
Another big misconception is that the food bank is either government funded or funded through Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest). Neither is true. We have the burden of covering our own expenses without the financial support of any one source.
Unlike most pantries which operate through their local church, we do not have any single source of financial support. We rely on donations from individuals, corporations, churches, and various fund raising efforts during the year.
We also receive a monthly allotment from the United Way (which covers 8% of our annual operating budget) and grants from different foundations help with our budget as well.
We were founded in 1988 by a group from the United Methodist Church with a vision to help the less fortunate in our community. While we still receive support from the Methodist Churches, their support alone is not enough to cover our expenses.
We have an eleven county service area with over 170 member charity programs. The following list reflects our service in 2011.
Your Support Helps Us to End Hunger
The West Ohio Food Bank depends on donations from our community
to assist in our mission of eliminating hunger in Northwest