Military, veterans get assistance from local food pantry

XENIA, Ohio — A local food pantry is working to help members of the military who are struggling to feed their families.

The Xenia-Area FISH Food Pantry on Cincinnati Avenue looks a lot different than it did one year ago. From fresh paint to a raised garden, a lot of people have helped make the pantry grow.

Gail Matson is Executive Director at the pantry. She said, “Anybody who has donated time, effort and money to help us get where we are, we want to put their names up there.”

There is a pantry angel tree, which is one of the first things you’ll see when you walk through the door, and a lot of people have.

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Before the pandemic, Matson said the pantry served about 600 families per month. By November of 2020, that number doubled to nearly 1,200 families.

Now, because some families are receiving extra benefits, Matson said the number has dropped to between 600 and 800 people per month.

“We don’t see as many families. We see singles, those with disabilities, folks on Social Security, along with many military families and veterans. We see a lot of those.”

That’s one reason the Xenia-Area FISH Food Pantry is now offering a unique shopping experience for members of the military in need. The second and fourth Saturday of each month, the pantry will be open from 9-11 a.m. only for active-duty military and veterans.

Matson said, “They can come in and have a cup of coffee, a donut and talk to other veterans. We have some who will come in and talk. It’s a more calm, relaxed atmosphere.”

The pantry will continue serving others who live in Greene County each Wednesday and Thursday from 12-3 p.m. Workers follow U.S.D.A financial guidelines and require a photo I.D.

Matson said, “There’s people out there in need of our help. We just want to reach those people and bring them in. We have plenty of food and plenty of space. We want to help people.”

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