DAYTON, Ohio – When With God’s Grace opened its free shop on weekday mornings, founder Nicole Adkins said she was surprised at how quickly the lines wrapped around the front door. Between the two store locations, Adkins said she’s seen hundreds come in each week.
With the cost of groceries, gas and other needs rising, food stores like With God’s Grace in Dayton have noticed an increase in demand for their services, yet Adkins said donations, especially new ones, haven’t kept pace. That’s why she hopes to develop her own solution.
“These are working class people,” said Adkins. “We’re seeing families who’ve never had to use pantries before.”
According to the Consumer Price Index, food prices are 9.4% higher than they were in April 2021.
When it comes to canned goods and non-perishables, Adkins said she rarely has trouble stocking shelves, but in recent months, protein and especially products have been hard to find.
Much of it comes from grocery stores through a process called food salvage. When food near the end of its shelf life is discarded so that it can be replaced with new shipments, the food is donated to pantries or food banks, which can offer it for immediate consumption.
However, Adkins recently said stores are having their own problems getting new stock and moving it into stores.
“Before, they used to let it go two days ago, but now they keep it longer,” she said. “So by the time we get it, if they don’t eat it that day or freeze it, it spoils in the fridge.”
In order to provide pantry customers with food that lasts, Adkins built a second garden. It started in late May, and by the end of the summer, it hopes to have the 13 loft beds at One Love Church in Huber Heights, to supplement the eight it built at Vandalia last year.
“It would be helpful to be able to help us get some fresh produce for our families so that we can support some of the difficulties we are having by being able to provide it to them,” she said.
Plans to create the park began last year after Adkins saw the impact of what could grow in Vandalia. She started making money for supplies and seeds for a second garden, and she said the donation helped push them over the edge so they could start just when the community needed it most.
“Inflation has really hurt our families in our community,” she said.
The proof is in shoppers like Roslyn Cotton, a single mother of two who said she’s relied on the pantry for the past two months, to be able to check her grocery list each week.
“Since the epidemic,” she said. “Things weren’t the same.”
Cotton said finding fresh, healthy food for her family was one of the biggest challenges she’s faced, so she is thankful to God for finding a new way to provide what she needs.
“That makes it worthwhile,” she said.