Bay Food Ministry offers helping hand to those in need
The Bay Food Ministry is beginning its 28th 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. In 2016, BFM served over 1,280 people. Food distribution 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 2007 BFM affiliated with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and today purchases most of its food through that source. Last year, BFM distributed over 48,000 pounds of food, representing over 40,000 meals. On distribution days, clients come to Bay Presbyterian’s Auburn Hall which is set up like a grocery store where clients can select items that include canned goods, cereal, pasta, frozen meats, snacks, toiletries and dairy products. The selection changes each month based upon the food supply offered by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
During 2016, the Food Ministry each month served on average over 80 households representing 200+ 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, Bay Community Garden, the Village Project, Bay Middle School Builder’s Club and other area organizations.
"Our pantry is for anyone who lives in Bay Village, works in Bay Village or is a member of Bay Presbyterian Church," said Sharon Brumagin, Director of Human Resources at Bay Presbyterian. "Anyone who falls into one of these categories also has to qualify under the financial guidelines set by government agencies. If someone contacts us who doesn't meet one of the criteria I direct them to the pantry closest to them."
One client at a recent 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 of items 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 the BFM-marked grocery cart at the Main Entrance of Bay Presbyterian Church.
If you have questions about the Bay Food Ministry, please contact Sharon Brumagin at Bay Presbyterian Church, 440-871-3822. All personal inquiries are held confidential.
Eric N. Peterson
Eric Peterson of Bay Village is a member of Bay Presbyterian Church and a longtime volunteer of the Bay Food Ministry.