Times are tough, and the Sandusky Food Pantry is one of the organizations providing direct relief to those in need. AEP Ohio is proud to lend a hand and, together with the AEP Foundation, is donating $3,000 to help feed families in Sandusky County.

The food pantry serves approximately 700 households with 14,000 meals per month. According to Treasurer Jim Faist, about 90 percent of the organization’s budget goes toward buying food. Operating out of a building in Fremont, they keep expenses minimal so that money coming in – including the donation from AEP Ohio – is spent on healthy, well-balanced food items.

The pandemic hasn’t caused a surge in families coming to the food pantry. Faist believes it’s because government assistance has provided temporary relief for some and senior citizens may be staying at home for safety reasons. (He says it has resulted in seeing some new faces at the facility, though.) But the government checks may not come forever and stockpiled food may run out. As COVID-19 wears on, more people are already coming in. And the need may grow.

“When the pandemic started we had a couple good months of contributions. We have wonderful community support and a lot of people recognize the good we’re doing,” Faist says. “But [contributions have] started to level back to normal. It’s hard to guess what’s going to happen.”

Funds go toward purchasing a seven-day supply of food for a family. That includes perishable food items such as milk, eggs, meat and butter; canned foods such as tuna, chicken, vegetables and soup; and other items such as bread, cereal, pancakes and syrup.

“Donations like these keep us in operation. The community has always been right there for us, and businesses like AEP Ohio make sure we’re taken care of,” Faist says. “There’s always a certain level of need no matter the economy. People are not always able to make ends meet. And we’re trying to fill that gap.

“We’ve never had to turn anyone away – that’s the last thing we would want to do. Sometimes these donations fall into place at just the right time.”

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