People come to the LSS Food Pantries at different stages in their lives and for different reasons. Each person’s story is unique. We strive to meet our clients where they are and serve them as individuals so that they can better their lives. Here are some of those unique stories.
Jennifer is enthusiastic in her praise of the LSS Food Pantries. “I absolutely love it. I love coming here. Everybody’s awesome and I get healthy food.” As a type 1 diabetic, a healthy diet is critical for Jennifer. “The fresh produce and whole grains, it’s awesome. I just got organic chicken breasts, that’s amazing too.”
Jennifer and her husband own their own small business and live above their shop, but maintaining a steady income is a struggle. She said the LSS Food Pantries are a big help, especially since the healthy food she needs can be expensive in a grocery store. “I can come here and get produce every week,” she said.
Jennifer also appreciates being able to order her food online ahead of time. “It’s so convenient to be able to do that. It’s ready when you get here. You don’t spend a lot of time here.” She added, “I usually stay a little bit later and I’ll help put the carts away, so I try to help when I’m here.”
Jennifer has deep feelings for the LSS Food Pantries. “It’s literally keeping us alive,” she said. “It really has with all the good stuff that I’m getting that’s healthy for me, and I wouldn’t be able to afford that right now. Making us be able to wake up and be happy and cook some good food and just stay healthy.”
John had supported himself his whole life until he was sidelined by a stroke two years ago. No longer able to work as a truck driver, John lived off savings for a year. However, things got tough when he was left with Social Security and only $16 a month in food stamps. This is when a friend told him about the LSS Food Pantries. “It makes a big difference because sometimes when I don’t have any money for food, I can get food at the pantry and it holds me until the next month,” he said. John likes the selection of fresh produce and finds the staff to be respectful. “I know I can count on this place,” he said. “It keeps food on the table for me. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal’s going to come from.”
Holly became disabled ten years ago and has been unable to work since then. She and husband got by until he became disabled three years ago and had to stop working in construction. Now, they share a home with Holly’s mother-in-law and have to live off Holly’s disability payments and her mother-in-law’s Social Security. A huge portion of their income goes to medication and medical expenses, and there’s often not enough money left for food. Their income is just over the limit to qualify for food stamps and they don’t qualify for Medicaid.
These are the circumstance that led Holly to the LSS Food Pantries. “It’s overwhelming,” she said. “If it wasn’t for local pantries, we wouldn’t eat because I have to pay the doctors and the pharmacist. I take 12 pills a day and that adds up.”
Holly tries to visit the pantry once a week for fresh produce and once a month shelf-stable items. “I used to be too proud to go to the pantry,” she said. “But after a while you have to suck up the pride and go.”
“With LSS, it’s great,” said Holly. “The online ordering is easy.” She says ordering ahead cuts down on her wait time at the pantry. She also likes that the pantry is consistently open a lot of hours throughout the week making it easier to schedule appointments.
Holly is truly grateful for LSS. She has also used the LSS Health Center at Faith Mission for some of her medical needs. “If I was where I could feed my family and have extra money, I would give it back to LSS in a heartbeat,” she said.
Melinda and Colin’s Story
Melinda and Colin had worked their whole lives, but when the pandemic hit, they both lost their jobs. With money tight and ineligible for food stamps, Melinda searched the internet and found the LSS Food Pantries. They had never used a food pantry before and at first, they were reluctant to do so. “I felt kind of hesitant because I felt like I was going to be judged,” said Melinda. Instead, they found the opposite experience. “They’re so kind and generous. The first time I ever came here, it brought tears to my eyes,” said Melinda.
Melinda and Colin appreciate the convenience of ordering their food online, scheduling a pickup time, and the consistent availability of milk, eggs, meat, and fresh produce. Colin said that thanks to the LSS Food Pantries, he knows his eight-year-old son will have enough to eat when he visits for the weekend. “I know I can rest assured that he gets taken care of, well taken care of,” Melinda added.
“Even when both parents are working, it’s still a struggle,” said Tammi during her first visit to the LSS Food Pantries. Tammi works full-time in a low-wage job and her husband has a temporary job. “I don’t qualify to get food stamps, so you know, food is the last thing you buy after you pay the bills,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to reach out and try to get some help.”
Tammi was happy to see the variety food at the pantry. “My daughter’s going to be excited,” she said. “She likes her fruit and veggies. We’ll make apple butter with all the apples.”
Often Tammi finds fresh produce and meat too expensive to buy in a grocery store. “Unhealthy food is cheaper to buy, so you tend to lean towards getting the cheap, unhealthy stuff opposed to the good stuff,” she said. “It’s a blessing to be able to get some healthy stuff for a change.”
Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio is a United Way agency, a member of Lutheran Services in America and a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
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