LORAIN, Ohio — It's been a busy year for Neighborhood Alliance in Lorain. The organization, which has been around since 1927, provides emergency shelter, homeless outreach, daily meal delivery, nutrition services including an emergency food pantry and socialization activities for seniors and more.
The organization shared data surrounding their senior meal delivery program at the Sept. 1 Lorain County Commissioners board meeting.
"At the end of June this year we have served 62,186 meals," said Amy Anderson, the director of senior enrichment services.
"We saw the needs in our community increasing for our services long before COVID-19 became part of our lives, however, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of essential needs," said Alicia Foss, the president and CEO of Neighborhood Alliance.
The organization was approved for $500,000 by the Lorain County Commissioners to build a new nutrition kitchen, allowing them to feed more seniors in need.
"We right now have four separate kitchens that we're running so this will bring us all into one kitchen, which will consolidate our programming in that way. That will create a more efficient operation for us on the inside," said Foss. "In turn leads to more available funds for food as our costs begin to lessen over the course of the next several years, so this is a long term for us. This is not something that is fly by night, we're gonna put the kitchen up and just forget about it. We have a plan to continue to build this program."
Lorain County Commissioner Matt Lundy highly supported the project.
"It's important that we always protect our seniors and show them the dignity and respect they deserve," he said.
Sharing that too many of Lorain County's seniors go to bed hungry each night.
"We need to make this investment to make sure that we can better serve our seniors in need with a nutritional meal to keep them happy, healthy and secure," Lundy said at the Sept. 1 meeting.
Foss said 97% of those who are served by Neighborhood Alliance live in poverty. The organization also said in the meeting that between 2001 and 2011, one in 12 seniors experienced food insecurity. Add in those who live in food deserts and the problem only gets worse.
Foss said with the new kitchen not only will they serve more people, but they can also launch new programs and partnerships.
"Can we do internships, externships in the kitchen? Can we build others programs to feed populations that maybe we're not working with currently."
Neighborhood Alliance expects the kitchen, to be located in the former Elyria YMCA building, to cost $680,000.