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Fri Aug 29, 2014, 07:03 AM

Athens County food bank needs support as advocate passes

If you wish to help with food or donations, please visit this website: http://211athenscounty.org/MatchList.aspx?c;;0;;N;0;0;Food,%20Clothing%20and%20Household%20Items;Food%20-%20Pantries,%20Fresh%20Food%20and%20Baby%20Food;706;Food%20Pantries

The Athens News
Wednesday, August 27,2014
Food Cupboard struggles as advocate for the hungry passes

To the Editor:

The Nelsonville community lost a gentle though mighty spirit this past week: history teacher, principal and minister to the hungry Mr. Robert Sheskey.

I had the good fortune to sit down with Mr. Sheskey just a few weeks ago with the intent to gather his thoughts about the plight of the Food Cupboard, a Nelsonville food pantry that has been operating in the community since 1989. Mr. Sheskey and his wife, Joanne, had been operating a soup kitchen for nearly a decade at the St. Mary's of the Hills parish hall in Nelsonville when a friend asked Mr. Sheskey to come help with the Food Cupboard as well. At the time, the Church of the Epiphany had been operating the pantry.

At 90 years of age, Mr. Sheskey was in good spirits and intent on the subject of the conversation - by his request the pantry, not his personal history. As president of the Advisory Board, he was the principal fundraiser for the pantry these past 25 years, with most of the monetary support coming from community donations, both personal and organizational.

The community has been extraordinarily generous, with a list of 231 donors by 2014. He worried that we are at a turning point; the need is outgrowing the community's ability to meet it. "We're about tapped out." he said.

This past year, the monthly budget at the Cupboard averaged $3,350. This budget enabled the Cupboard to serve 1,237 individuals each month, with 367 of those being children and 182 seniors. The heavy responsibility had worn on him, but when asked if he thought the pantry's services should be limited perhaps by county, he said, "How are you going to turn away someone who is hungry?"

Currently, use of the Nelsonville pantry is not limited except for each household permitted only one visit per month. With the Nelsonville-York schools reaching 58 percent and 71 percent of households qualifying for free or reduced lunches, one can see the dilemma.

Mr. Sheskey wished for the Cupboard to continue, and voiced a need for it to be used with integrity. As resources are squeezed everywhere, innovative answers to the challenge of poverty and hunger in our midst are emerging, both in our own communities and across the nation. Mr. Sheskey passes his torch onward.

Caprice Huffman
For the Advisory Board Nelsonville Food Cupboard

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Reply Athens County food bank needs support as advocate passes (Original post)
theHandpuppet Aug 2014 OP
No Vested Interest Aug 2014 #1

Response to theHandpuppet (Original post)

Fri Aug 29, 2014, 08:59 PM

1. Ohio University in Athens will be starting another schoolyear shortly;

perhaps as parents drop off their students, they can be made aware of the need in this nearby town.

Volunteers could solicit small donations, and maybe it will be enough to add up, plus planting the seed of awareness in those visitors and newcomers to the area.

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