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Garrettsville – The Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard (NGCC) celebrates its fifth anniversary in February. That means — despite being a struggling not-for-profit organization totally reliant on community donations, dogged by growing demands, suffering a devastating fire, then rebuilding again — the NGCC endures to carry out its mission.

The community is invited to NCGG’s Fifth Anniversary Open House from 10 am-2pm on Saturday, February 25. “Enjoy some light refreshments, take a tour and see what we’re all about,” says NGCC co-director Michele Elias.
Calling themselves “neighbors helping neighbors to ‘Shut the Door on Hunger’ in our community,” NGCC has been located at 10661 Highland Avenue for the past year and a half. From here, it provides monthly food assistance to those in need, available to all eligible residents living in the James A. Garfield Local School District.

In addition to packaged and frozen foods, fresh food options are made available through a grocery voucher program in cooperation with Sky Plaza IGA. Clients can trade the voucher in for a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread or a dozen eggs. Through this effort, 1,000 gallons of milk; 200 cartons of eggs; and 200 loaves of bread are donated each year. The Cupboard also operates the Weekend SnackPack Program, which provides healthy and easy-to-prepare snack foods to 180 eligible JAG students at no cost.

The food distribution schedule at NGCC was adjusted January 1 to maximize efficiencies and resources. Since the greatest demand for food assistance comes at the start of the month, the Cupboard is now open 2-6pm on the first and second Monday of the month and 9am-1pm on the first and second Wednesday per month.

Elias says that 1,156 households were served in 2016, which represents a slight increase over the past two years. In 2012 — the NGCC’s first year — 466 families were served. Then in 2013 those numbers doubled; in 2014 the demand nearly doubled again. Since then, demand for food assistance has stabilized, with just moderate increases.

“So much has happened in the past five years, 2012 seems like a very long time ago,” Elias comments. “Now — God willing — we are here to stay at this final location, and we hope to continue to provide as much food assistance as the community needs. We couldn’t do any of this without the generous support and co-sponsorships from our local churches, schools, business partners, volunteers, and private donors from the community. We are totally donation-based, with no support from federal, state or local government. ‘Neighbors helping neighbors’ is a good motto to live by.”

NGCC is a 501(c)3 organization and all donations to it are tax deductible. Its mailing address for donations is: PO Box 294, Garrettsville, OH 44231.

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Estelle R. Brown is a freelance writer who lives in Garrettsville with her family. She has written and taken photos for newspapers, magazines and e-zines for the past 25 years. She also enjoys working on public relations projects, including web content, newsletters, posters, brochures, press releases, and other creative endeavors. She enjoys writing compelling stories about her community as a contributing reporter for the Villager.