Food pantry still starving for new site
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor
Saturday, 10 August 2013 07:50
The struggles for the Bowling Green Christian Food Pantry continue as this week they learned plans for a hoped-for new building located at the site of a Bowling Green church fell through.
|File photo. Barney Smith walks down stairs at the BG Christian Food Pantry in Bowling Green. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Shirley Woessner, a board member and volunteer coordinator for the pantry, was distraught as she shared the news on Friday morning with the Sentinel-Tribune.
Last September the pantry publicly shared how it is starved for space in its ongoing efforts to provide food for families in need.
Hopes rose for Woessner and the board when earlier this year, the board and congregation of First Christian Church of Bowling Green expressed the possibility of having a new food pantry building located on its property.
This week, church officials declined to approve the plan.
Steve Riewaldt, chairman of the property committee for the church, said that it was a unanimous decision of the committee not to move forward at this time.
"Every one of us is in favor of a food pantry in Bowling Green. That's not in question," Riewaldt said in a telephone interview Friday.
He said the main concern involves legal matters involved with the property issues of what would happen to the building on church property should the pantry cease to exist down the road.
"Right now there were concerns about leases versus ownership of the property," Riewaldt said. "We don't want to get involved with something that is open ended. We are looking at what is in the best interest of the church.
Riewaldt said neither the committee nor the church is closing the door on the food pantry. He would like food pantry officials to consult with an attorney to research some of the legal and property issues.
"We still support the food pantry, but there was not enough positive information for us, and too many questions right now to move forward at this time," he said. "It's not that we don't want it, there are just too many questions."
Riewaldt said the church and congregation want to support the pantry, but he also recognizes the need for others to support the efforts.
"Looking ahead, this should be a city-wide event, all the churches should be involved and major businesses, too," he said. "Hunger is a universal problem. It should be everyone's concern."
Riewaldt said the committee and board could reconsider.
"We may end up being the site, but until we get all the information we need - until we get all the facts ... we are not ready yet. Hopefully they have a Plan B."
Woessner said food pantry officials are open to ideas for a new site.
"We are back to square one, but we are not giving up," Woessner said. "We are still cramped and damp."
She said a recent rain storm caused flooding issues for those trying to get to the pantry and take their groceries back to their vehicles.
She has pictures of people having to cross puddles near the entrance on makeshift bridges made of palettes.
The pantry has been at its current location for 10 years, but it lacks enough area for food storage, office space and is not handicap accessible. There are stairs that go down to the pantry.
"Not everyone can handle those steps," Woessner said, adding that a volunteer nearly fell recently.
The availability of a location suitable for construction of a new facility is the ideal situation. That would allow the board to build a pantry to suit its needs, with a lobby and office space. However, the board is open to other facilities.
The current facility is donated, and the board is very appreciative of the use of the space at 541 W. Wooster St., the former home to the Wood County Health Department, Woessner said.
She said despite recent food drives to stock the shelves, the pantry is still in need.
"We are low on stuff in the shed," she said.
Canned food and other non-perishable donations as well as cash gifts are welcome.
The mailing address for the pantry is P.O. Box 84, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402.
It is open from 1 to 3 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m.
Anyone with a facility or an idea for a location for the pantry should contact Woessner at (419) 601-2760 or the food pantry board president, Brent Pomeroy, who is also pastor at First Christian Church, at (419) 354-3989.