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FISH Food Pantry Can Help With More Than Just Food





Jim King, left, president of the Archbold FISH Food Pantry board, with Lynn Lehman, pantry director, in front of shelves of foodstuffs at the FISH facility on South Defiance Street. About 100 households use the pantry, but Lehman said many more are eligible.– photo by Pam Graber

Jim King, left, president of the Archbold FISH Food Pantry board, with Lynn Lehman, pantry director, in front of shelves of foodstuffs at the FISH facility on South Defiance Street. About 100 households use the pantry, but Lehman said many more are eligible.– photo by Pam Graber

The Archbold FISH Food Pantry is a source of help for more than just food.

“We’ve done household winterization projects, car checks in the fall, replaced car batteries,” said Jim King, board president for the pantry.

“We can help with rent, utilities, and prescriptions. We even helped with gas a time or two,” said Lynn Lehman, pantry director.

“We even have a connection with a local church to get budgeting help. In fact, I just had somebody call recently, asking about that.”

“We’ve also started doing some community outreach. Last year, we hosted five cookouts for the East Gardens community. We plan to do five again this coming summer.”

Volunteers

About 30 volunteers keep the pantry running.

“We have people that come in each week to unload the truck when it comes,” Lehman said.

“There are people that work the desk to check people in; people that stock the shelves. There are youth groups that help clean on Saturdays.”

The pantry is filled both by donations, and by some purchasing through the Toledo Food Bank.

“We never know what we’re going to get,” Lehman said. “Sometimes we get donations of things that we need, and some things that are just unique.”

“Some things we don’t need,” King laughed.

“But, the right client will walk in and say, ‘Hey, I’ve been looking for lima beans, or canned asparagus,’ or whatever,” Lehman said.

State requirements to use the pantry change each July.

Currently, a household of four with an annual income of $50,199 or less qualifies to visit FISH.

“There are so many people out there who could be using our service,” Lehman said.

“I understand why they don’t, though. People are proud, and they don’t want to come to the pantry and admit that they need some help.”

About 100 households use the pantry each month.

“That’s down from when I started,” Lehman said.

“When I started, that number was about 130.”

“I think the economy is better, and more of them found jobs. The majority of our clients are working parttime, or are on disability, or are veterans.”

Welcoming

“We do our best to make this building as warm and welcoming as a cement block building can be,” Lehman said.

“People here are accepting and non-judgmental. It’s a good place to be among friends.”

“When I first started, the clients would come in and there would be dead silence. Now, it’s kind of cool to hear the chit-chat going on and the laughter while they wait their turn.”

The Archbold FISH Food Pantry is available to individuals or families who live in the Archbold School District, who have an Archbold mailing address, or who attend a church that supports the pantry.

Each household may visit the pantry one time per month, and they check in using a Pantry Track card.

“We are one of the few pantries in the area where the clients get to pick and choose the items they take home with them,” Lehman said.

“Most pantries have boxes pre-made. You pull up, they ask how many in your home, and they give you a box that matches the number in your house.”

The amount that clients can take is based on the size of their household.

“No matter what, though, when they leave, they have a shopping cart full of stuff,” Lehman said.

“There’s no limit on the bread or the fresh produce.”

Items that seem to fly off the shelves include soups, pastas, crackers, cereals, canned mushrooms, mandarin oranges, canned potatoes, toilet paper, paper towels, diapers– especially sizes 5 and 6– canned beef, and coffee.

Tremendous Support

“We are very fortunate,” Lehman said.

“We have a tremendous amount of support.

“We have one church that supplies laundry detergent so that every client goes home with a bottle of laundry detergent.

“The Boy Scouts do a food drive. The post office does a food drive. Church youth groups and churches gather items for us.”

“The F&M Bank supplies the space,” King said. “That’s huge!”

“There are a lot of very generous people in this community,” Lehman said. “Not only giving to the pantry, but also, the clients receiving are giving back to us as they can.

“We’re always looking for ways to reach out to the community. We’ve referred people to local pastors for counseling.”

“We’ve taken them to church with us,” King said.

“Wherever we can step in and help, we try to find a way to do it.”


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