Thirty years have passed since Vineyard Columbus started its food outreach ministry. Started by the vision and dedicated mission of a single mother distributing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the pantry has now grown into a functioning center of ministry for the poor and unsheltered in our city.
Expansion of Services throughout the Greater Columbus area
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we expanded our food distribution efforts, partnering with Convoy of Hope and World Vision to provide more than 500,000 lbs of food to more than 10,000 families in the greater Columbus area. Our Food Pantries NEVER closed. In addition to maintaining our weekly food distribution, our staff and volunteers expanded our reach, serving even MORE families every week. Programming was shifted outdoors and hot meals were served via to-go style.
We continue to host monthly food distributions at the campuses – Cooper, East, and Sawmill. Each month we prepare fresh food boxes to serve 300 families, 100 families at each of our campus locations.
And while we saw different people at the pantries, we served less and less folks who live in the immediate area of our 5th Avenue location.
Changes to the 5th Avenue food pantry neighborhood - Weinland Park
In the late 90’s when Pastor Dan Franz developed the programs at the 5th Avenue food pantry, resources were limited in the area. During this time, Weinland Park's neighborhood demographics were blue-collar, working-class communities of color, with many families living in the area for generations.
Weinland Park was also home to the Short North Posse - creating a high crime and high anxiety environment for families in the neighborhood.
In 1997, you could purchase a 3-bedroom home in the $30’s. The median listing price in Weinland today is $350,000. Astronomically, condos are selling for $500,000 two doors from the 5th Avenue pantry building. As an outcome, the pantry is standing on the edge of two affluent neighborhoods, Italian Village and Weinland Park. These drastic changes in the neighborhood are creating a striking difference in the 5th Avenue weekly pantry outreach.
Moving services from our 5th Avenue location to Northside
Considering the significant changes to the surrounding community and duplicated services being offered by established nonprofit organizations and churches in the area, we have made the prayerful decision to relocate our food pantry services from 5th Avenue to our Northside Pantry location where our service is most needed. The transition will occur slowly over the next 6 months.
New Opportunities at Northside Food Pantry
Our monthly ESL food distribution will convert to a Choice model that gives families the opportunity to shop inside our building and pick the food items they need most.
A Choice FP pilot program will open Nov 2021- April 2022 on Thursday afternoons from 1-4pm. Families will have the opportunity to reserve a spot thru the Mid-Ohio website and pick their own food items during their visit.
We will open new times and days for our guests to shop at our Northside food pantry location. We want our building to be open more often and longer to accommodate other programs that Vineyard Columbus hosts: Community Resource Team, Project 17, satellite ESL programming.
In 2022, we will start building an outreach to serve the unsheltered community in the Northside pantry area.
We ask you to pray
- Change can be complex and encouraging. While we may be relocating our services, we are further expanding our reach and providing support where it is most needed. We remain committed to serving the homeless and others in need. Pray for positive experiences through the process of change.
- Pray for favor from God as we expand our outreach at Northside Food Pantry, building upon years of service and partnership in that community. Pray for kingdom opportunities for us to serve the many individuals who have relocated from the Weinland Park area as well as other vulnerable individuals and families.
If you have questions or want to learn more about our food pantry ministry, contact Jenney Rice. Interested in joining our volunteer ministry team? Great! We’d love to have you! Just check the volunteer + serve section on our website to learn more and register.