RIO GRANDE — In light of layoffs across the country and health concerns, hundreds lined up their vehicles in the parking lot of the Rio Grande Community College and the University of Rio Grande’s Bob Evans Farms Hall for food donations from a community partnership, Monday.
“It’s going to be somewhere around 22,000 pounds,” said Southeast Ohio Foodbank Development Coordinator David Keller of the amount of food donated to those in need. “That’s about the limit for our semi truck here. We’re going to be distributing to about 400 families here in Gallia County. It’s really only made possible through a partnership with the Village of Rio Grande, the university here, Columbia Gas and (TC Energy) and all these wonderful volunteers who showed up.”
From 10 a.m to the event’s end at 3 p.m., several members of the Ohio National Guard appeared to assist in food distribution along with members of local churches, Gallipolis Rotary and the Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board. Area elementary teachers were noted to assist in the distribution. Rio Grande first responders were also on scene.
TC Energy has recently been working on natural gas infrastructure in the region.
“It really shows there’s a need, not only on a normal day but especially in a national emergency like this,” said Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter of events surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak across the country. “We started working on this right when this happened. We weren’t sure we’d be able to get a truck. TC Energy and US Pipeline offered to fund it and they’ve been out here today to see the need in our community. I said yes when they called and said we had a truck. We called Rio President Smith and said we needed their parking lots. He said absolutely and it’s been fluid and everyone has done a good job. We’re sanitizing and being socially distant as best you can do.”
Easter lauded the efforts of volunteers.
“Honestly, I could cry seeing how much people care,” said Easter. “We’ve been able to fill pantries and do door-to-door delivery for our senior citizens.”
“We’re happy to be a small part of it,” said Rio Grande Community College and University of Rio Grande President Ryan Smith who next credited Easter and the village with a large portion of the work. “It’s nice to see the community pull all together. The village is small but it has a big heart and they come together when they need to. We’re feeding a lot of families.”
The Southeast Ohio Foodbank is a program of Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action. Individuals taking part in the food donation had to be income eligible families who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and residents of Gallia County.
“As long as there are people who are needing help,” said Keller. “We’ll be there to assist them.”
Dean Wright is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.