LOVELAND, Ohio (WKRC) – The order to have no more than 10 people in a room forced a lot of places to close -- like churches.
In the back of many churches are food pantries run by the church. One food pantry is still in operation, thanks in large part to the church.
L.I.F.E. Food Pantry is roughly a 220-square-foot food pantry that's located in the back of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Loveland. The pantry is also supported by 11 other area churches and a synagogue. That's why L.I.F.E. stands for Loveland Interfaith Effort.
The fact that L.I.F.E. isn't the church pantry is just part of the reason it's still helping serve a community that has seen other church and school-based food pantries close.
“You need help; that’s what we’re here for,” said Linda Bergholz, executive director of L.I.F.E. “You might only need us one time. We might never see you again. That’s OK. We do food.”
When Prince of Peace closed its doors for services and preschool, the church opened the doors to its gym and two overflow rooms to L.I.F.E.
“We’re very grateful to the church that they allow us to rent that space,” Bergholz said. “But this kind of space is amazing because we can set it up and leave it up as opposed to every night when we close, we play the game of Tetris and fit it all back into the pantry.”
The changes also allowed the pantry to provide a drive-up service to keep its volunteers and clients safe.
While food banks have members of the National Guard helping distribute food, many local pantries are still running on the power of donations and volunteers. Volunteers like Carolina, who said, “It really fills my heart to be able to come and help people. There’s nothing I would rather do to be here and do this.”
Carolina and the many volunteers work to fill everything from kids to senior bags, with items from shelf-stable food to fresh produce.
Volunteers even help deliver to those who can't make it to the pantry. They also pick up donations from local restaurants and businesses.
“Out of Thyme Studio, they make all these prepared meals that we put in the kids' bags,” Carolina said. “Free of charge and all we have to do is pick it up.”
A local restaurant, The Works, even makes soup just for L.I.F.E. to give to its clients.
Cherie Bolender is the Voice of the Client, a client that gives feedback to the pantry.
“How well organized that it switch them bringing it out to the car and holding the numbers up. That way, it’s safe social distancing for us,” Bolender said, “It just works so smooth.”
The pantry is feeding the city, including those from four local housing developments. They also serve anyone who comes from outside the 45140 Loveland zip code one time.
“We want to kind of spread the wealth and spread the love,” Bergholz said, “because it’s Loveland and so what else would you do?”
L.I.F.E. modified their pantry hours to Thursday from 3-6:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. L.I.F.E is one of the Freestore Foodbank’s 500 community pantries.
Upcoming Freestore Foodbank Food Distributions are as follows:
Gamble Nippert YMCA
3159 Montana Avenue, Cincinnati OH, 45211
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Immanuel United Methodist Church – Boone County
1400 Boone Aire Road, Florence KY, 41042
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Highland Avenue Baptist Church
6110 Highland Avenue, Cincinnati OH, 45216
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Pendleton County Fairgrounds – Hosted by the Gathering Wing
320 Fairground Road, Falmouth KY, 41040
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church – Hosted by Lincoln Heights Valley Boosters
9931 Wayne Avenue, Cincinnati OH, 45215
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Gray Road Church of Christ
4826 Gray Road, Cincinnati OH, 45232
Time: 2:00 p.m. - TBA
To find a Freestore Foodbank pantry in your area:
To find a Shared Harvest Foodbank community food pantry in Butler County, go here.
To find a Shared Harvest Foodbank community food pantry in Warren County go here.