Food Center Offers Weekly Summer Family Events

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In Athens County, about 20 percent of the population depends on food assistance to survive.

Some of that help comes from private food pantries who operate with volunteer employees.
For Lisa Roberts, who coordinates four food centers including on in Lottridge, helping area residents put food on the table is a way of life.
The mother of six started the Friends and Neighbors Community Choice Food Center 13 years ago.
"We serve a lot of different areas, but specifically, the backside of Athens County, Washington County and Meigs County at the farthest end of each of those counties where there are the most limited services," explains Roberts.
Roberts says she's recently noticed an increase in the number of residents showing up to receive food assistance from area farms.
She says poverty and a lack of food are problems that residents of Appalachia face all year long, but in the summer it's worse.
"When the kids are out of school, that's a free breakfast, a free lunch, that they're now not getting. This program gives them the food they need to hold them over," said Roberts.
To make sure children in Athens, Meigs and Washington counties get the food they need, Roberts tries to hold family fun events on Wednesdays in Lottridge, where a free meal is served at noon.
Wednesday, she hosted a dog show at the Lottridge Community Center.
Those who qualified for food assistance were then able to shop at the pantry with the help of Friends and Neighbors volunteers.
Roberts, who is a volunteer herself, says most of the people who put in time at the center also receive food assistance from the pantry 
"I feel better about myself, knowing that I'm giving back to the community that's helped my kids and I," said Nathan Cole, a Friends and Neighbors volunteer and client.
Roberts says the Friends and Neighbors food pantry gets much of its food from the Athens-Hocking-Perry County Food Bank as well as area farmers, and she says they are always grateful for individual donations.