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Greater Cleveland Food Bank holds first drive-through pantry

Cars lined up for hours to register and receive boxes of food after coronavirus cuts make life uncertain for some.

CLEVELAND — Providing for people comes naturally for staff at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank but the coronavirus has presented a different set of challenges.

On Thursday, a little innovation mixed with determined volunteers and thousands of people were served in the food bank’s first-ever drive-through pantry.

Dozens of clients say they sat in traffic for more than an hour to drive down E. 152nd or E. 185th to pick up a weeks’ worth of produce and non-perishable food, but their gratitude far exceeded the wait time.

“I got a trunk full of food so I can't complain,” says Miguel Osborne. “God will provide.”

As with many businesses, creativity is endless and it’s why the food bank was able to feed 1,203 families in just a few hours.

“We weren't comfortable bringing people into the building like we normally do,” says CEO Kristin Warzocha. “We were worried for the seniors that we serve to have them that close together.”

Three lanes carried multiple cars while volunteers loaded up trunks with boxes of produce and food.

In the first hour and a half, 500 cars pulled through the lanes, which gave a stark visual for the need in the community.

“I'm no longer working, I'm a fashion and costume designer,” Osborne says. “Theatres are shut down.”

From unemployment numbers skyrocketing to families wondering how bills will get paid, it hasn’t taken long for the coronavirus to make an impact on Northeast Ohioans.

Warzocha says it’s important to hold the community together by providing everything they can to help. For most clients, food bank services aren’t a luxury, it’s a lifeline.

They served 61,000 pounds of produce and 46,000 pounds of Care Source shelf-stable foods during the event on Thursday.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank has plans to hold another drive-through pantry soon. More details will be available soon.

If you are interested in volunteering, donating or learning more about the recipient requirements, please click this link.

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