Heart, Love & Soul offers a full meal for families

Niagara Gazette

Tanya Adamson had her kids move back in with her this year due to high rents and other rising costs, including food.

For the first time, she stopped by Heart Love & Soul’s Thanksgiving food giveaway this past week, getting a full bird and other fixings for her family meal.

“It’s very helpful,” Adamson said, who had also gotten food from Community Missions on Buffalo Avenue. “The price of food is ridiculous these days.”

Each year on the Friday before Thanksgiving, the Ontario Avenue food pantry, along with volunteers from the accounting firm Chiampou Travis Beshaw & Kershner, help give away the meals.

Executive Director Mark Baetzhold said that 300 people had signed up to receive Thanksgiving food this year, with volunteers normally giving away between 200 to 250 meals each year. Meals this year had turkey or chicken, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, stuffing, nuts and dairy.

“People who are part of the food pantry sign up and come to receive all the fixings for Thanksgiving,” Baetzhold said, with the food either donated by residents or bought by the pantry.

Chiampou Travis Beshaw & Kershner have been volunteering at the pantry for the past 15 years, with firm CPA Bob Travis a Niagara Falls native.

“There’s such a need in this community,” Travis said. “This is a wonderful organization that provides so much to the community and we want to be part of it.”

The food pantry primarily serves the 14305 zip code, covering the northern portion of Niagara Falls. Recipients have to meet certain income requirements to qualify.

From Jan. 1 through Oct. 31 of this year, Baezthold said the pantry’s meal distribution has been 81% higher than the same period in 2021, due to high demand and the increasing cost of food.

While this food giveaway is the main Thanksgiving event Heart Love & Soul does, there was also a special Thanksgiving meal offered the Tuesday before the holiday during the pantry’s regular lunch hour.

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