COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Central Ohio food pantries are among those feeling the strain of new sanitation guidelines and deepening economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heart to Heart Pantry in Grandview changed its twice-weekly distributions from an indoor self-serve operation to a drive-thru, pre-packaged distribution. The pantry, which is connected with First Community church, is even following social distancing recommendations by standing six feet apart during the morning prayer.

“We don’t like change,” laughed Lamar Graham, director of Heart to Heart. “But I think everyone has been very appreciative for the changes that we’ve made.”

Graham explained the services are coming at a critical time for the community. In its first week of drive-thru distribution, the pantry served 155 households, up from the typical 100-120 households it serves on a regular basis.

Michelle McClure was picking up food for a local refugee family Tuesday morning.

“All of the refugees I know are involved in the restaurant industry and they’ve all been laid off,” she explained. “I think it’s going to hit their community especially hard.”

McClure appreciated the ease and safety of the new drive-thru operations.

“I’m so thankful for these people and their hard work. It’s just a blessing,” she said.

Heart to Heart is asking for the public’s help to keep the pantry stocked and operating. It’s looking for donations of food, money and brown paper and plastic grocery bags.

Graham said, “To be able to have enough food to serve our clientele is key. So we’re grateful to be in this position to make sure all of our folks have enough food.”

You can drop off grocery bags or non perishable food donations Mondays from 9am-10am or Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m. at the facility at 1320 Cambridge. Monetary donations are especially helpful, because they can be stretched further and more effectively at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Find a list of needed items and how to donate by clicking here

Click here to find the pantry nearest to you and read more about Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s adjustments during the COVID-19 health crisis.