A ribbon-cutting ceremony reopening the Choice Food Pantry in Dayton on June 3 after a 15-week renovation held special significance for the Sisters of the Precious Blood, one of whom founded the pantry nearly 40 years ago.
Sister Mary Ann Smith joined the staff of Catholic Social Services in 1968 to help mothers and children in poverty with basic household chores. Noting a lack of food in some of these homes, Sister began collecting food for her clients. As the need grew, she was asked to begin a food pantry.
Operated by CSSMV, the pantry is one of the busiest in Montgomery County, fulfilling more than 18,500 food requests annually. In 2014, the pantry served 16,667 unduplicated clients from 6,345 families. More than a quarter of the families served last year were requesting assistance for the first time.
The renovation improves the client experience with a more manageable traffic flow through the facility and added refrigeration/freezing capability for food storage. A key benefit was the construction of caseworker offices for greater privacy during client consultation.
The Sisters of the Precious Blood were among the major donors to the $560,000 capital project. Sister Mary Ann worked at CSSMV for 20 years. She was also active in other community efforts to provide food and services to the poor in Dayton. Sister died in 1994.
Sister Florence Seifert is a board member and treasurer of CSSMV.
Story by Dave Eck