Coventry library becomes a mobile pantry site
On May 20, Heights Libraries’ Coventry Village branch became one of the newest sites for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry program.
According to the Food Bank, a mobile pantry is defined as a truck full of food that is brought to a central location where clients can pick items up, just like they would from a regular pantry, with a focus on healthy, fresh produce: “Mobile pantries distribute the healthiest and most nutritious food at the Food Bank. A truck will usually contain 90 percent produce (fruits and vegetables), including apples, cabbage, greens, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, oranges, melons and more. The remaining 10 percent usually consists of bread, yogurt or another donated item.”
Maggie Kinney, Heights Libraries' special projects manager, who oversees the program, said the community’s poverty rate is one reason the library applied to be a pantry site.
“Our community is vibrant and thriving, but we do have poverty here as well, a rate of roughly 18 percent according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” Kinney said. “Our buildings have really become the center of our neighborhoods, and residents already look to us for help with all kinds of things, so the Mobile Pantry is a natural fit.”
The Mobile Pantry is the library’s latest collaboration with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, which over the past few years has included after-school snacks for kids at the Noble Neighborhood branch and summer lunches at the Lee Road and Noble Neighborhood branches.
The pantry also reflects the library’s recent focus on culinary literacy for kids and teens. “Our culinary literacy programs are designed to teach kids basic cooking skills and the importance of healthy eating,” said Kinney. “Now we’re providing access to the healthy produce that we feature in those classes.”
The Coventry Village branch will get enough food for roughly 80 to 100 families. They do not need to be Heights residents to take advantage of the Mobile Pantry. The only requirement is that recipients be 18 years of age or older, have a photo ID, and meet a designated financial threshold, which they self-report. In other words, no proof of income or residency is required.
“The pantry operates on the honor system,” said Kinney. “No one will be turned away, but we do ask that only those with a genuine need take advantage of the program.”
The Greater Cleveland Food Bank works with more than 140 partner programs to distribute millions of pounds of produce through the Mobile Pantry program. The Food Bank partners with nonprofit organizations in a six-county service territory to provide fresh, healthy food to food deserts and underserved areas in Northeast Ohio.
The Mobile Pantry will be at the branch the fourth Monday of each month, and will be run mostly by volunteers who will sort and distribute the food, with a few staff members providing management and oversight.
Questions about Mobile Pantry eligibility can be directed to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank by calling 216-738-2265, or by visiting the Food Bank’s website, www.greaterclevelandfoodbank.org.
Community members interested in volunteering for the Mobile Pantry program should contact Maggie Kinney at 216-932-3600, ext. 1290, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.