Bay Food Ministry, a quarter-century of service
The Bay Food Ministry is beginning its 25th year of service as a local food pantry. Founded in 1989 as a joint venture ministry of Bay Presbyterian Church, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and Saint Raphael Catholic Church, BFM today operates out of Bay Presbyterian Church.
Clients of BFM all fall under State of Ohio income guidelines and include families with children, seniors – including several residing in the Knickerbocker Apartments, single parents and individuals who have found themselves in challenging situations. Food distribution day is held on the last Friday of each month, with clients receiving a three-day supply of food.
BFM historically relied upon donations of food to stock the pantry but in 2008 BFM affiliated with the Cleveland Foodbank and today purchases most of its food through that source. On distribution days, clients come to Bay Presbyterian’s Auburn Hall which is set up like a grocery store where they can select canned goods, cereal, pasta, frozen meats, snacks, toiletries, dairy products and other items. The selection changes each month based upon the food supply offered by the Cleveland Foodbank.
During 2013, the Food Ministry each month has served on average more than 80 households representing 200-plus people, mostly from Bay Village but also residents of Westlake, Lakewood and five other nearby communities. In addition to food donations that come directly from church members and the community, BFM has enjoyed partnerships and special support from Saint Raphael School, Metro-West Kiwanis, Bay Community Garden, the Village Project, Bay High School's Key Club and other area organizations.
BFM has more than 30 regular volunteers including John and Ginny Hansen of Lakewood who have served as BFM coordinators since the food pantry began. Mary Hildebrandt, Director of Congregational Care Ministry at Bay Presbyterian, says, “The Bay Food Ministry is open to any resident of Bay Village as well as any member of Bay Presbyterian Church.”
One client at last month’s BFM food distribution day said, “It means a great deal to me to have access to this food at the end of the month. They always seem to have a wide variety to choose from and the volunteers are always friendly and helpful and I really appreciate it.”
Bay Food Ministry will happily accept donations of any unexpired non-perishable food items – but there is a regular need for brand name cereal, peanut butter, pasta and spaghetti sauce and cans of tuna. Donated items can be placed in BFM-marked bins at the main entrance of Bay Presbyterian Church.
If you have questions about the Bay Food Ministry, please contact Mary Hildebrandt at Bay Presbyterian Church, 440-871-3822. All personal inquiries are confidential.
Eric N. Peterson
Eric Peterson is a volunteer at the Bay Food Ministry.