All Saints Fights Hunger In Parma
The recession of 2008 plunged families in the Parma area into a financial crisis that, for many, lingers to this day. All Saints Episcopal Church, at the intersection of West Ridgewood Drive and Ames road in Parma’s Town Center, is at the leading edge of the fight to relieve the problem of food insecurity among low income households in the greater Parma area and, quite unexpectedly, across many other Cuyahoga County communities.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services defined the 2017 federal poverty rate for the state of Ohio at $12,060/year income for a 1-person household, adding $4,180 for each additional household member.
A recent Cuyahoga County profile, published by The Centers for Community Solutions, shows the impact of poverty countywide, and in each of the eleven county council districts. District 4 is comprised of the municipalities of Parma, Parma Heights, and Middleburg Heights. The table below summarizes its findings.
Live below federal poverty level
Live in deep poverty (< 50% of poverty level)
Eligible for food bank benefits (< 200% of poverty level)
Have no health insurance
Adults with a disability
In September of 2014, in partnership with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, All Saints launched its mobile pantry hunger program. Every month approximately 12,000 pounds of fresh produce is distributed to low-income households from the church’s large parking lot. Over 40 months almost 470,000 pounds of food has been distributed. In 2017 alone, 145,000 pounds was distributed to 518 unique households in the three Parma area zip codes (44129, 44130 and 44134) and to an additional 167 unique households in adjacent zip codes. Other households served are peppered across the county, as far east as Mayfield and as far west as North Olmsted.
In addition to distributing food to families, All Saints also offers at each food distribution homemade soups and beverages prepared by volunteers. A community of friends has developed among the hundreds of people who visit every month. On more than one occasion food recipients have said that they are treated “like family.”
The people of All Saints are humbled by the scope that this outreach has grown in 40 months; by the many generous volunteers, both members and non-members of All Saints, who show up every month to cheerfully make and serve soup, unpack pallets and cases of food, register people who come for food, hand out food to people and generally attempt to render order from chaos; and by the community’s support for this effort to help those most in need. Thank you all!
Jeffrey Fowler is the Pantry Coordinator at All Saints Episcopal Church.