Church of the Advent is a breathtaking, gray, stone structure that towers over the historic neighborhood of Walnut Hills in Cincinnati. Open Door Pantry located in the lower level of the church has been participating in the Hunger Walk for several years. This year the goal is to raise money to purchase more food for the pantry as well as gain exposure. “We think this is a great way to increase our capacity,” says JoAnn McIntosh, Executive Director of Open Door Pantry. “We love that this is an event that is organized by the Freestore Foodbank to help partner agencies like us and we appreciate the support very much.” JoAnn is looking to participate in the walk for the first time this year and she is asking people to sign up via social media.
Open Door Pantry was started by the church in 1973 because one of the parishioners saw people roaming the streets as they were shutting down and moving people out of institutions. They started a payee program in 1973 to help individuals manage their finances and became one of the first agencies to work with the Social Security Department. Shortly thereafter they started a food pantry. The café developed over time and it was a great addition. A lot of times it was the same people who came – but it was a good way to add a sense of community to the neighborhood. The pantry and the cafe have been open for over 46 years. “Our clients deal with mental illness and developmental disabilities on top of poverty,” says JoAnn. “When they are not able to be responsible for their finances, that’s where we come in.” The pantry has two staff members and they are dedicated to helping those who come in full-time. One is an account manager and the other is a customer service specialist.
Open Door is small and personal and their clients love that about them. “Our clients can call us any time and we provide individualized care and attention,” says JoAnn. The pantry allows clients to come in twice a month to pick up food and it helps supplement what they can get with food stamps. They also have a doctor and a nurse who visit once a month to do blood pressure checks etc. The pantry is open five days a week and estimate is that they see around 50 clients each day. “We even offer help with preparing a burial plan,” says JoAnn. “Many clients live alone and they need help making arrangements. We are happy to help them with this.” Open Door appreciates its partnership with the Freestore Foodbank and is grateful for the support it receives from the Freestore in a variety of areas ranging from food delivery to SNAP outreach and support with the Hunger Walk.