Food for Thought office moves DowntownWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Tom Konecny, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer
Food for Thought, a local nonprofit assisting area hungry and homeless, has moved its headquarters from Oregon to Downtown Toledo. The group offers several mobile food pantries throughout Northwest Ohio and one in Michigan, and also hosts a popular Downtown Saturday morning picnic where attendees receive free sack lunches.
“When Food for Thought started we had a much smaller network of food pantries,” said Chief Thought Officer Sam Melden. “Over the past three years we’ve added almost 20 sites. In a lot of those, they were more West Toledo and South Toledo, so we thought a more central location would be good.”
New Harvest Church in Oregon had served as Food for Thought’s headquarters since its inception in 2007, but on June 1 the group moved to Downtown’s Trinity Episcopal Church on Adams Street. New Harvest Church was an integral part of the group since the beginning, as several of its members founded the organization.
“New Harvest has been great and super supportive of everything we’ve done from day one,” Melden said. “They remain involved. A lot of their people are a huge source of volunteers for us on Friday nights, so they’re still a key partner.”
Trinity Episcopal Church is ecstatic to welcome the growing organization.
“Food for Thought is almost a perfect match,” said Rev. Elizabeth Hoster. “It’s good for them, but it’s also wonderful for us, too. I think what having Food for Thought will do here is help anyone, not just members of this congregation, but anyone who lives out those values in our mission in a really concrete way.”
So far, Melden said the location suits them well.
“It’s great. We really, really like being here,” Melden said. “We like the partnership with Trinity and also being Downtown is great. It’s going to make it a lot different meeting with others and making events more convenient.”
Melden said a staff of two full-time equivalents work at Trinity Episcopal Church, but the organization is primarily volunteer led. Anywhere from 15-50 people assist every Friday night with lunch packing in preparation for Saturday’s picnic. Picnics are held in a parking lot at Adams and Michigan Streets next to the main library Downtown, and 350 regularly attend.
The only issue so far has been switching from a no-cost Saturday picnic spot on the main library’s north lawn, to one for which the organization must pay. After vacating their original location at the request of the library, they were forced to look elsewhere, so they chose a nearby parking lot. Melden said they could have held their picnics anywhere, but wanted to stay near the people they serve.
“The Downtown library is a common meeting place for the unhoused community,” Melden said. “It’s a warm, comfortable place with restrooms and people take advantage of it. So when we wanted the parking lot space, they basically charged us as if we’re renting every space for the whole time we’re there.”
Melden said they are hoping to work out a deal with Kwik Park, which operates the parking lot.
For now, however, Food for Thought’s office location at Trinity Episcopal seems to be working for all parties involved.
“We all know this is going to be mutually beneficial,” Hoster said. “Already the folks that have come through these doors have helped us so much. I just feel like this is a match made in heaven.”
For more information, contact Food for Thought at (419) 972-0022, or visit feedtoledo.org.