Athens County Food Pantry Outreach Chair Karin Bright packs a box of canned goods. Photo by Anastasia Nicholas.

Athens Food Banks, Pantries Help during Holidays

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Food is a cornerstone for the holiday season. For families struggling to feed themselves all year, Thanksgiving and Christmas can be especially difficult.

Food insecurity in Athens County is the highest in Ohio, Athens County Food Pantry Outreach Chair Karin Bright said. More than 13,000 Athens County residents don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Surrounding counties, which also receive help from the pantry, have similar rates.

“Hunger is a never-ending problem in this area,” Bright said. “There is no individual season for hunger.”

Despite their increased visibility during the holidays, the pantry never takes a week off.

One community food initiative that has seen increased activity in recent weeks is the food pantry in Baker University Center.

An employee stocks the shelves at Baker Center Food Pantry. Photo by Anastasia Nicholas.

Dusty Kilgour, Executive Director of Baker Center and Event Services, says the pantry, along with a few student organizations, have been running food drives.

“The food pantry has been really successful in the last couple weeks,” Kilgour said. “We’re excited to continue to fill it.”

Caitlyn Garrity is the program manager at the Donation Station, which uses donations to buy produce from local farmers and stock local food pantries.

Volunteers come and go at the Food Pantry on Richland Avenue. Photo by Anastasia Nicholas.

The organization accepts donations at the farmer’s market every week.

The farmer’s market receives less traffic in the winter, Garrity said. She encouraged people to continue their giving.

Other community food initiatives in the Athens area include the Athens Catholic Community Food Pantry, Monday Lunch in Fellowship Hall, the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services and the Southeast Ohio Foodbank.