Vienna Ecumenical Food Pantry

The Vienna Ecumenical Food Pantry was formed in February, 1985, when Vienna Center churches, collaborating with the Warren-Trumbull County Food Coalition, sought to meet the emergency food needs of local residents and address the problems of hunger in the area, the nation, and the world.

The purpose and goals of the Vienna Ecumenical Food Pantry.Original document donated by Helen McKenzie

Two members from Vienna Presbyterian Church, Vienna Methodist Church, and St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, met at the Presbyterian Church to establish an Ecumenical Hunger coalition, following the structure of the Warren-Trumbull County Food Coalition.

Bruce Bequeath was chosen chairman of the Steering Committee. Grayce Bequeath, secretary, and Keven Rice, treasurer.

Registration by needy families was held on three afternoons in July, 1985. Ten families containing 26 members were registered with the Salvation Army and considered eligible for aid.

Fifteen types of food items were collected on July 29, 1985, at the Warren-Trumbull Food Coalition warehouse, 418 Main Street, Warren, Ohio. These were packed according to family size, then distributed on July 30, 1985.

Cash and food donations were also collected by the three churches to support the Food Pantry. Volunteers from each church were asked to pack and distribute the food boxes monthly, on the third Monday with distribution the next day. These activities took place at the Vienna Presbyterian Church.

In 1998 the Food Pantry was serving 38 families, representing over 100 individuals.

The Food Pantry eventually moved to the St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, in the fall of 1999, when an elevator was added to the Vienna Presbyterian Church, thus taking up the organization's storage space.

The Food Pantry has enjoyed great support through the many donations of food and money by Township organizations, churches, school, and residents. At Mathews High School an annual food drive was held each November.

Warren Tribune Chronicle, December 15, 2001

In April of 2007 the Vienna Food Pantry reported that they were servicing 45 families.[1]

Long-time helpers of the Vienna Food Pantry were Evelyn Butler, affiliated with the Vienna Methodist Church, Bruce and Grayce Bequeath, affiliated with the Vienna Presbyterian Church, Ruth Hayes, affiliated with St. Vincent de Paul Church, and Hal Gibson.

Bill Haynie, Georgia Haynie, Ed McKenzie, and Helen McKenzie took over as co-directors of the organization in 2001.

Co-Directors of the Vienna Ecumenical Food Pantry, circa 2003.L to R: Bill Haynie, Georgia Haynie, Helen McKenzie, Ed McKenzieImage from the Vienna Historical Society's collection.Donated by Roseann Kennedy

Since September 2011, Bob and Linda Rose have overseen the food pantry at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church (formerly St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church).

According to Linda Rose on January 26, 2021:

The food pantry currently occupies one and a half rooms in the parish center. A refrigerator and two upright freezers have been acquired through the donations of the good people of Vienna and Fowler. Grants have also been secured by Vienna Township Trustee Phil Pegg.

The pantry continues to distribute food on the third Tuesday of every month. Our clients are mostly Vienna and Fowler residents but we do not turn anyone away. Food is supplied by Second Harvest Food Bank which is paid for with community donations. Food drives are conducted by Mathews Local Schools, Vienna Township Neighborhood Watch, and the Vienna Township Police Department's 'Fill a Cruiser' event to supply the pantry. The pantry is also supported by the Vienna Methodist Church, which provides dry goods to the clients, the Vienna Presbyterian Church, which provides monthly cash donations, and St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, by holding a yearly cash donation drive.

It is only with the donations of the good people of this community and our very loyal volunteers that keep the pantry running. It has been our pleasure serving this great community.

Updated 10/11/2021
This article is based on Evelyn Butler, "Vienna Ecumenical Food Pantry," in Vienna, Ohio, Where We Live and Let Live: Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), pp 200-201.
[1] Information from the March 12, 2007 Vienna Township Neighborhood Watch minutes.
Additional research by Christine Novicky, 2021.