ROOTSTOWN, Ohio (WJW)– Reena Davis and her husband, Jason, took a leap of faith and left their jobs.
The Rootstown couple bought an old school bus, painted it bright green and started a 501c nonprofit called Rural Relief Mobile Food Pantry. Every week, they take a bus load of food into small towns in Portage, Carroll, Holmes, Wayne and other rural counties served by the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
“What triggered it for us that during the pandemic, we were watching the news and seen the long lines in other states. We asked ourselves there has to be a need in our own community,” Jason Davis said.
“We also have experience from our families knowing what it’s like needing food in a rural area and the obstacles and barriers that stand between you and it,” Reena Davis said.
Not everyone has a car, and bus service is not frequent or isn’t available. Country roads don’t usually have sidewalks. Some small communities are food deserts without markets.
At this pickup, many folks picked up bags for several families because they have a working vehicles.
The couple and their big green bus use Facebook, flyers, road signs and just word of mouth to get food directly to the folks who need it.
“Most people are really proud and have worked hard their whole life. And a lot of things have come up in the past year and a half with everything that’s going on with the pandemic, and a lot of people have had to ask for help who have never asked for help before,” Reena Davis said.
Food insecurity in the rural populations served by the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank ranges from a little more than 10 percent of the folks in Medina and Holmes counties to more than 14 percent of Carroll County.