L.I.F.E. Food Pantry, NEST Community Learning Center, Northstar Care Center answer the call for kids and families in need during Coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown around Loveland

By: Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH – Sunshine tried to peek through on a cloudy afternoon in Loveland, Ohio, Sunday, March 15, 2020.    

                         LIFE Food Pantry will continue to feed the Loveland schoolchildren in need (Provided)

While the Coronavirus (COVID-19) cast a dark cloud across the globe, around the nation, through Ohio and in our local communities, people were gathering to develop plans to help one another and especially those most vulnerable. It really begins with orders from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to close schools. Immediately the cry went out for help feeding Loveland schoolchildren who rely on school lunches; sometimes the only meal they receive in a day.

NEST Community Learning Center, L.I.F.E. Food Pantry, and Northstar Care Center were the first call for Loveland School officials concerned about caring for the kids. Evangeline DeVol, Founder & Executive Director of NEST called an “all hands on deck” meeting Sunday afternoon to clarify plans to begin feeding the kids on Monday, March 16, 2020.

Evangeline DeVol, Founder,& Executive Director NEST CLC met with staff and Board Members Sunday, March 15, 2020 planning COVID-19 emergency response efforts (Photo Chuck Gibson)

She addressed a group of about 12 staff and members of the NEST Board of Directors regarding this special COVID-19 emergency response mission. Her message centered on the economically disadvantaged during this crisis.

“The last thing they’ll spend money on is food,” said DeVol. “We’ve seen kids go all day without being fed.”

Providing nutrition for students in need is a major part of the NEST mission year round, but especially when the kids are out of school and without the assurances of a nutritious lunch. Likewise, providing nutritious meals for Loveland School students is a primary objective of Loveland InterFaith Effort (LIFE Food Pantry) throughout the year. During the NEST meeting, DeVol highlighted plans to coordinate efforts to get necessary food items to those in need. Director of LIFE Food Pantry, Linda Bergholz reaffirmed the coordinated efforts to help the hungry.

 “We are continuing to do the same service we do all along, just in a modified manner,” said Bergholz.


A small portion of donated food items do be delivered to children and families in need during the COVID-19 emergency response (Photo Chuck Gibson)

The Food Pantry is located in the Prince of Peace church, but the church is closed. While the church is closed, LIFE Food Pantry will distribute food in a drive-thru manner. Instead of clients being allowed to come inside, they’ll be greeted at the door, give their information, wait in their cars while their order is being filled.

 “When their order is filled, we contact them and have them drive around to pick up their food,” Bergholz explained. “That way we’re keeping a safe bit of distance between the clients and volunteers. We’re doing prepackaged items; things they would be getting from the pantry anyway.”

It is almost business as usual for LIFE Food Pantry. Not so for NEST. Feeding the kids for what may be an extended period of time is a bit out of the ordinary for the NEST staff and volunteers. It is the reason they met to sort through details of where they’ll be located and how they’ll be sure to reach the students in need. There was great discussion and concern about getting it right, being safe, and truly helping those children in need. The answer came from simply following the laws which guide who, what, where and how they feed the children they serve during the summer NEST program.

 “Our number one priority is to feed the kids,” DeVol said. “We know our kids, if we don’t see them, we’ll find them. This is about keeping kids safe.”

Keeping kids safe is a number 1 priority during the COVID-19 response. NEST volunteers will be identifiable by the NEST shirt they’ll be wearing. (Photo Chuck Gibson)

Like LIFE Food Pantry during this COVID-19 emergency response, NEST has to do some things differently too. They already began accepting food donations dropped off at Loveland High School 4-6 p.m. They are receiving numerous inquiries from people who wish to volunteer to help. The NEST mobile learning center already serves the communities of Westover, MacArthur Park and Chapelwood Apartments. They will be there to deliver “boxed lunches” daily, but will additionally be delivering to Branches Church, Branch Hill Coffee Company, Epiphany United Methodist Church, Waterford Apartments, McCoy Park, and the “Farmer’s Market” parking lot between Eads Loveland Hardware and Loveland Canoe & Kayak during one hour times daily.

NEST vehicles are ready to load and deliver food sorted and packaged at LHS (Photo Chuck Gibson)

Another adjustment for NEST is having volunteers sort and package the “boxed lunches” at Loveland High School each day – at least until any additional changes.  Loveland City School District Superintendent Dr. Amy Crouse confirmed the partnership with LIFE Food Pantry, NEST, and even Northstar Church Care Center to ensure the students will receive the meals they need during the COVID-19 closure. Protection of individuals health and safety is first and foremost in the plans.

 “We are certainly implementing the work from home plan,” said Crouse. “The direction is if you are ill, or in high-risk population please implement the work from home plan. Do not come in to do those things.”

All the partners are clear about the common goal to protect the health and safety of the kids and all the community. LIFE Food Pantry has a list of registered families and will continue to serve them to meet their needs for food, health and safety items. NEST has a plan to make sure those they have identified up to the age of 18 will safely receive prepackaged non-perishable food items. All NEST volunteers delivering food will be easily identifiable wearing a NEST shirt and with a NEST label on their vehicle.

Staff and Board members of NEST met Sunday, March 16, to plan the emergency response underway on Monday, March 17, 2020 (Photo Chuck Gibson)

“NEST works because the community comes together,” said DeVol. “If all the communities do this, we’ll all be okay.”

With that, NEST, LIFE Food Pantry, and the Care Center are shining just a little bit of sunlight on Loveland to push aside the dark cloud of COVID-19. The response to coronavirus COVID-19 continues to be a fluid ever-changing situation. There is no way to publish all the information in a story like this. Loveland Beacon values the opportunity to be a conduit to the community to share helpful, useful information. PLEASE go to the NEST, LIFE FOOD PANTRY and Care Center online websites for details on how to get the services you need, or how you can volunteer to help, or donate.