On Wednesday, April 1st St. Stephen’s Community House knew the influx of visitors to its Food and Nutrition Center due to layoffs and school closures because of COVID-19, running out of boxes was going to be an issue. And on Thursday, April 2nd after assisting 183 families [694 Individuals] they officially ran out.
“We were lucky we had boxes left over from our food giveaway in December, to cover the first rush for a few days, but we knew they wouldn’t last through this crisis,” Amy Kerns, Director of Neighborhood Services said.
“Our first call was to our partners at the Central Ohio Labor Council. We have been partnering with them for over 60 years, and we knew they would be able to direct us to the right people.”
WestRock Packaging Solutions in Lancaster answered the call to assist and provided St. Stephen’s Community House with 5,000 boxes to package pre-boxed food to help families weekly out of the St. Stephen’s Community House Food and Nutrition Center.
In a statement from WestRock Packaging, the company stated they were glad to support this terrific effort.
There was still the issue of transport. St. Stephen’s Community House CEO, Marilyn Mehaffie reached out to St. Stephen’s Board of Trustees member, Duffy Driscoll of G&J Pepsi.
“When Marilyn called and asked us to help, it was a no brainer. We knew our logistics team could get the boxes from Lancaster to Linden fast to make sure they had them for Friday. The need is great in Linden, and even more so since they are helping all of Franklin County during this crisis,” Driscoll said.
“It was incredible that this all came together so fast. All these organizations coming together to fulfill a great need, and helping their community neighbors, some from a different part of the state. It demonstrated that we truly are all in this together,” Mehaffie said.
St. Stephen’s Community House as seen a 142% increase of families served since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, and new households (those who have never visited the Food and Nutrition Center before) are up 296% when comparing March 2019 and March 2020.
“We expect these numbers to continue to rise as the economic fallout from the pandemic continues,” Natalie Atkins, St. Stephen’s Community House Director of Marketing and Development said.