Nelsonville Food Cupboard Gets Expanded Facility

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For 25 years, the Nelsonville Food Cupboard served Athens County residents in need from a tiny space on West Washington Street. The location was so small that only one person could get food at a time, leaving others lined up outside the facility braving the elements.

But thanks to the generosity of a local couple, the Nelsonville Food Cupboard has moved into a large facility at 421 Chestnut St. The space allows the Cupboard to store more food and provide meals to needy families as they wait indoors.

“People used to line up outside and the line would sometimes stretch around the block,” said volunteer Larry Lafferty.

The new location, which used to serve as a grocery store years ago, is owned by Roy and Nancy Davis. The couple is allowing the Nelsonville Food Cupboard to use the space for free.

“The Good Lord told me it was the right thing to do,” Roy Davis said when asked why they offered the space rent-free.

In addition to the rent-free space, Lafferty said a private donation made renovations to the space possible to suit the pantry’s needs.

The Nelsonville Food Cupboard provides approximately 191,000 pounds of food to those in need. That figure breaks down to 1,100 clients each month and 545 households. According to Lafferty, 62 percent of those served either have children and/or a senior.

An open house was held Thursday evening to introduce the community to the new space. The move was made on Feb. 14 but the Cupboard didn’t miss a day of providing food.

According to Lafferty, many people assumed that the Cupboard had shut down following the August death of longtime community leader Bob Sheskey. Sheskey managed the food pantry for more than two decades.

However, Sheskey’s family and a team of loyal volunteers have kept the organization running since his passing. Several of his daughters are involved in the Cupboard, including Margaret Sheskey who serves on the Cupboard’s board of trustees. Other trustee members include Caprice Huffman (president), Jon Flowers, Jack Mauer, Judy Rioch and Brenda Swank.

“As long as the need exists, the Food Cupboard will continue to be a part of the fabric of the community, serving our neighbors in need,” Lafferty said.

With the expanded space, Lafferty said the organization hopes to get funding to get walk-in coolers and freezers to allow the pantry to offer more meats and fresh produce.

“We don’t have a hunger problem in Southeast Ohio. We have a hunger and nutrition problem,” he said, noting that cheaper foods are often the least healthy.

Eligible families may receive one food box a month, which on average contains enough for nine meals. Lafferty said that many people don’t realize that the need for food increases during the summer months and the holidays. He said this is because of school breaks, which means that children are home and not getting that guaranteed lunch meal at school. Lafferty said the organization would like to be able to offer families an additional box of food during those months when school is not in session.

Lafferty and Margaret Sheskey are married and both retired from Ohio University in fundraising roles. Lafferty said the couple is happy to turn their fundraising experience to the food cupboard where the need is evident.

Approximately 90 percent of the food provided by the pantry is purchased from the Southeast Ohio Regional Food Bank in Logan. Lafferty said that pantries are able to spread their donation dollars a lot further by taking advantage of deep discounts on food from the food bank. However, the food pantry also receives food donations from residents.

The Nelsonville Food Cupboard is open from 1-3 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday.

Those interested in volunteering or making a contribution of food or funds can contact Margaret Sheskey at or call 740-591-6358.