© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Days after fire damages warehouse, Hilliard Food Panty reopens as pop-up operation

 Volunteers distribute food out of a tent next to a truck labeled Hilliard Food Pantry.
Allie Vugrincic
Volunteers distribute food out of a tent in the side parking lot of Life Community Church Thursday after a Sunday fire destroyed the Hilliard Food Pantry's warehouse behind the church.

Just days after a fire destroyed food stock and disrupted operations, the Hilliard Food Pantry opened Thursday evening as a pop-up at its usual location on Cemetery Road.

Volunteers served food out of a big tent in the side parking lot of Life Community Church. Those picking up food waited in their cars until they received a text message telling them it was their turn to shop. It was a first run for the system, which Hilliard Food Pantry Board President Kyle Koppenhoefer said the pantry would continue to use if it ran smoothly.

The burned warehouse at the back of the building was just out of sight, but not out of mind. The fire that broke out just before 1 p.m. Sunday seriously damaged the pantry’s warehouse and left the remaining food unable to be served.

Koppenhoefer said the community has been very supportive since the fire, noting that the pantry had received around $100,000 in monetary donations since the fire.

“It’s hard to even just say the next level, it's the next five levels up,” he said of the community response.

 A woman wearing a Hilliard Food Pantry shirt holds a carton of eggs.
Allie Vugrincic
Debbie Smith of Hilliard, a "super-volunteer" at Hilliard Food Pantry with over 25 years of service, hands out a carton of eggs during the pantry's Thursday pop-up distribution in the parking lot of Life Community Church on Cemetery Road. The pantry briefly suspended operations after a Sunday fire destroyed its warehouse and food stock.

Norwich Township Fire, the department that serves Hilliard, is collecting nonperishable food donations to restock supply. Koppenhoefer said the community already donated 20 pallets of food at the three fire stations.

Each pallet holds about 1,000 pounds of food, which serves around 20 families at 50 pounds of food per family, Koppenhoefer said. The pantry typically serves 100 families per day.

"So we've got 400 families worth of food right now. That sounds like a huge number. And it is a huge number, right? But that's four days of operation for us,” Koppenhoefer said.

That donated food is being stored at Guide Church on Britton Parkway, which will serve as the pantry’s temporary home starting on Thursday. Before that, the pantry will open as a pop-up at Life Community Church again on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Koppenhoefer said he is confident the community will continue to help. The food served Thursday came from Mid-Ohio Food Collective, which previously delivered to Hilliard Food Pantry once a week. For now, the food bank is dropping off food on the day of distribution, Koppenhoefer said.

Koppenhoefer said Hilliard Food Pantry hopes to eventually return to Life Community Church as its permanent location.

Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.