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Toledo food pantry gets $100,000 grant from state TANF funding

The Southside Life Station is the only food pantry in Toledo that delivers groceries directly to homes. The funding will cover 30% of their yearly budget.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Five days a week, Pastor Daniel Stevenson and his team take on a massive mission on the streets of Toledo for the Southside Life Station.

The food pantry's mission "is to overcome evil," he said. "We fight poverty, hunger, loneliness and hopelessness in the city of Toledo and the surrounding area."

They do so by offering food and clothing to families struggling across the area. Once a month, they give away free bags of about $80 worth of fresh groceries delivered directly to people's doorsteps.

United Way of Greater Toledo President Wendy Pestrue said the nonprofit has received over 1,500 food insecurity-related calls in the last three months.

The Southside Life Station is a needed service, but it also comes with a hefty yearly price tag of about $300,000. Stevenson said he's glad the state's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program has helped ease that burden.

"There's an application process where they take a long hard look at what you're doing and the value it has in the community, and we're just grateful that they see that what we're doing has some value," he said.

Its value to the community is what has kept people like Holly Adams coming to the Life Station for over three years now. With kids and grandkids to feed at home and a new one on the way, the center has been a game changer for her family.

"Oh, it's a blessing," she said. "They give me the food we need, and they're nice, and they have a little clothing pantry and I was able to pick up quite a few things for my brand new granddaughter to be."

But Adams isn't the only one in need.

According to 2020 U.S. Census data, the average income for individuals in Toledo is nearly  $7,000 less than the U.S. average.

While Stevenson said that the TANF grant covers about 30% of their yearly expenses, they still need as much help as they can get.

"It's something they do grant yearly, so we will continue to apply, but we have need constantly, so we're still looking for like-minded individuals who want to overcome evil the way we do," he said.

To help, Stevenson said people can download their app, Life 4 Toledo, or reach their call center at 419-242-3340.

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