Urban Mission to launch Mobile Summer Food Pantry

PROGRAM SUPPORT — Trinity Health System and Hertz and Thrifty Car Rental, 1534 Sunset Blvd., Steubenville, are lending support to help Urban Mission Ministries get its first Mobile Summer Food Pantry off the ground next month. The food pantry will operate as a three-week program available for free to children ages 1-18, making six stops at designated times on Fridays from Aug. 2 through Aug. 16. Jennifer Riley, back left, Trinity’s director of nutritional services, met recently with Cynthia Lytle, back right, summer food program director, about Trinity making donations of jello, pudding and applesauce. With them are Lytle’s children, Wayne, 6 months; Jackson, 9, left; and Nina, 8. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — Urban Mission Ministries is taking a new approach to the summer feeding program for children with its first-time launch of the Mobile Summer Food Pantry that will enable it “to go where the children are and reach those who are unable to access healthy food through other programs.”

The Mobile Summer Food Pantry will operate as a three-week program this year, being available to children on Fridays starting Aug. 2 and continuing through Aug. 16. It is free for all participating children ages 1 to 18 and will have a total of six stops, operating on a first-come, first-served basis at the following locations and designated times:

¯ JFK and Elmer White Family Units (North End): 12:35 p.m. to 12:55 p.m.

¯ Earl Rogers Plaza (South End): 1:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.

¯ Donald Haman Apartments (Lincoln Avenue): 2 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.

¯ Heritage Place Apartments/Martin Luther King Center: 1 p.m. to 1:20 p.m.

¯ Murphy’s Field (Plum Street): 2:30 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.

¯ Ridgewood Place Apartments (Wintersville): Noon to 12:20 p.m.

Cynthia Lytle, summer food program director, explained that food items on the mobile pantry are made available through Trinity Health System along with other community contributions and sponsorships. Transportation is being made possible, meanwhile, through Hertz and Thrifty Car Rental, 1534 Sunset Blvd., Steubenville, owned by Clyde and Kelly Larsen.

The partnerships are greatly appreciated, according to Lytle, with both committed to making the program a success.

“Hopefully it’s seen as another way that Trinity is weaving itself within the fabric of this community and helping out wherever we can,” said Paul Wheeler, Trinity’s chief operations officer.

“We’re happy to do our part to contribute and to help this food program for all the kids,” commented Kelly Larsen.

For the past three years, Urban Mission has served as a sponsor for the Ohio Department of Education, U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Feeding Program, according to the mission’s July newsletter. ” During this time, we gained greater insight into the needs of the children in our community and where the gaps of service might be as it relates to healthy food access. It became apparent to our staff and volunteers that many children found it difficult to find transportation to our feeding sites. Although walking was an option for some children, this did not account for all children. As a result, we have decided to try a new approach to summer feeding,” the newsletter notes.

The mobile pantry will drive throughout the area, “providing children with access to fresh produce and some nonperishable, kid-friendly food items. The mobile pantry will enable us to go to where the children are and reach those who are unable to access healthy food through other programs,” according to the newsletter.

Staff and volunteers will help distribute food and assist children in selecting fresh produce.

There are several ways the public can help with the program, according to Lytle. They include:

¯ Volunteer — Help organize and pack donated food items on Thursdays in August or ride along distribute food with the mobile pantry on those three Friday.

¯ Sponsor a child — $8 will cover one child for one week. A gift of $24 will provide food for one child throughout the course of the program.

¯ Donate items — Donate healthy food and small meals to include in the mobile pantry, including items such as fresh produce, cheese sticks, cracker sandwiches and microwaveable children’s meals. All donations can be dropped off at the War Memorial Building, 423 North St.

“We are grateful for the United Methodist Appalachian Ministry Network for awarding us startup funds for the Mobile Summer Food Pantry in the amount of $1,500, and for Sodexo of Trinity Health System for donating jello, pudding and applesauce,” the newsletter notes.

For information on the pantry, contact Lytle at clytle@urbanmission.org or call (740) 282-8010

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