Updated Wed, Sep 28, 2011 12:44 pm
One in three citizens of Athens County lives in poverty. With the median household income in Athens County below the Ohio average, many people cannot afford to buy food for themselves or their families, even if they have a job.
Community Relations Coordinator at Jobs and Family Services in Athens County Nick Claussen sees the reality of this fact.
“We can provide some assistance through food assistance and cash assistance, but truthfully we don’t provide enough to help people meet their basic needs,” said Claussen.
People depend on the free food programs. There are about a dozen organizations in the county who offer meals. Most are churches.
“All of these places tell us they see more and more people coming in every year, and it’s a growing problem,” said Claussen.
One of the churches offering free meals is the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd on University Terrace.
About 150 people attend their Wednesday lunch weekly.
The program is funded by donations from the church and local businesses.
Additionally a $1,000 grant helps the volunteers buy food.
“They try to put together a complete, nutritious meal every time they serve. And they take a lot of pride in it and I think people enjoy eating it. So it’s really a good thing," said Reverend Bill Carroll.
The church volunteers develop menu and they are now offering healthier meals, including salad, fruit and vegetables.
This is an improvement for those in need as unhealthy food tends to be cheaper than fresh fruit or vegetables.