By Jeff Gallatin
Cleveland Foodbank officials felt North Olmsted’s Oxcart Pantry had the best ingredients among more than 550 Cuyahoga County foodbanks and recently awarded it program of the year for 2013.
In making the award, Cleveland Foodbank officials cited the OxCart Pantry’s volume of service, excellent volunteer recruitment and training, focus on distribution of healthy foods, client education and attention to detail in its presentation.
City officials were pleased by the award.
“It’s really great and an honor to get that kind of award from the foodbank,” said Chris Allegra, the North Olmsted Division of Youth and Family Services administrator. “It’s not something we really expected since there are hundreds of foodbank programs in Cuyahoga County and we’re out in the suburbs. It’s good that they think so highly of us.”
Allegra said volunteerism is a big part of the Oxcart Pantry’s operations.
“There are over 30 regular volunteers currently serving clients,” she said.
She specfically cited Madeline Brookshire’s coordination of volunteer training and scheduling as helping prepare the volunteers for the pantry work.
Mayor Kevin Kennedy also indicated his pleasure with the award and the Oxcart Pantry in general.
“It’s a well-deserved award,” he said. “They do a great job in the pantry and help a lot of people out with what they do.”
Allegra and case manager Georgia Wilder were given a plaque Sept. 27 at the Cleveland Foodbank’s annual conference and awards ceremony. However, in addition to the plaque and recognition as program of the year, the Oxcart Pantry got another honor that Allegra said goes to the heart of its mission. Deb Beckwith, vice president of Agency Programs & Services for the Cleveland Foodbank, said the Oxcart Pantry is also being awarded a $250 grant for the program.
“That’s something that we can use to buy additional food for the Oxcart programs,” she said. “It’s always good to get a grant and recognition like this, but we’re going into the holiday season, which is tough for many people, so we’ll have additional food on hand for them.”
Allegra said the pantry could not operate without generous donations from local churches, individuals, other organizations and schools in North Olmsted.
“They’re gearing up for the holidays, so donations are welcome,” she said.
People interested in volunteering, helping or making a financial or food donation can contact Allegra at 440-716-4166 or the pantry at 440-716-4165.