Miamisburg Helping Hands Food Pantry

Interview by: Carla Steiger

Don AllenDon Allen, 79, is a dynamo.  He works tirelessly for the Miamisburg Helping Hands Food Pantry which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. It’s one of 88 member agencies that The Foodbank supplies.

“The Helping Hands Food Pantry is set up like a business. There are 16 board members, a President, a Vice-President, Food Distribution Manager and receptionists,” he explained.  “12 churches throughout Miamisburg staff Helping Hands.  Each church is assigned a once-a-year monthly responsibility to staff the pantry,” he added.

Don Allen volunteers as Operations Manager where he oversees the day-to-day operations of the pantry.  “Our biggest responsibility is to have food to distribute to clients and getting the best price on food that we do buy,” he said.  “We get our food from The Foodbank in Dayton, donations, and from time to time we purchase food from stores.  Kroger and Aldi’s are the two big ones.  At Kroger we buy milk and eggs,” he said.  Whenever possible, farmers from the Miamisburg area pitch in and make donations as well.”

He said that he has seen an increase in the number of families served by the pantry.  “We serve an average of 325 families, but in November we had 360 families come in,” he stated. Helping Hands is open Monday from 6 – 8 pm, Wednesday and Friday from 2 – 4 pm. The pantry is also open on the last Saturday of the month from 10 – 12 pm.

Don’s work as a volunteer for Miamisburg Helping Hands came after a long and successful career. Retirement from GM in 1992 gave him the freedom to start his own remodeling firm, which he did until 2010.  “Basically, I had to give it up for medical reasons. I have vision problems and heart issues and now have a pacemaker,” he explained.  Although he no longer does it as a business, Don can make just about anything out of wood including “furniture, kitchen cabinets, wall units, recipe boxes, and many other things!”

Yet, woodwork was just not enough to satisfy him. As a man used to being actively engaged in the world, he found restrictions bothersome. “I didn’t want to sit around. I wanted to have something to do,” he stated energetically.  “I told a neighbor, Barbara Standifer who is now the pantry’s President, about my need to do more. She told me about The Foodbank and suggested that I visit Helping Hands to see what I could do. I did, and I have been there 3 ½ years,” he said as he grinned.

“We work very, very diligently to folks in the Miamisburg community. “Working with everyone at The Foodbank is fantastic.  I couldn’t ask for the opportunity to work with nicer people.  They go above and beyond for us,” he said gratefully.  It is a partnership that is sure to last for a very long time.

Good Neighbor House

Good Neighbor HouseThis year, Good Neighbor House is celebrating 20 years of service, “Empowering Healthier Communities” across Montgomery County. In 1994, Good Neighbor House opened its doors, providing food, clothing, and household items to those in need. In 1996, they expanded their services to provide dental, medical, and optometry services to local underserved families. A little more than a year ago, after outgrowing their building, Good Neighbor House relocated to a new location on First Street in Downtown Dayton.

Not just a place to get food and supplies, Good Neighbor House takes a holistic approach to improving the lives of those they serve. In addition to offering food and medical assistance, clients are linked to a dietician for guidance, counseling, and advice, as well as the opportunity to participate in cooking and exercise classes. Good Neighbor House has both a food pantry and a special needs pantry designed to meet the nutritional needs of clients with various diseases that can be controlled through good nutrition. Items like no-salt added vegetables and given to those with diabetes, and gluten-free items are given to individuals who are gluten intolerant.

Starting in July, Good Neighbor House’s general pantry turned into a choice pantry! This means when a family walks in to receive food, instead of getting a bag of items, they are able to walk around and pick the items they want. “At first, we weren’t sure how well it was going to work,” said Marcia Ehlers, Assistant Director of Human Services and Outreach. “But we found that people are making healthier choices and our clients feel more at ease with coming in to receive assistance. We are neighbors helping neighbors and the choice pantry has given us a way to connect more with those we serve.”

Good Neighbor House is run by six staff members and a large group of dedicated volunteers. Dieticians and the medical team take no pay to offer their knowledge and treasure to those who, otherwise, would be unable to afford the help.


If you are interested in finding out more about Good Neighbor House, visit their website at

Upcoming Events for Good Neighbor House include:

1st Street Family Fun Day – August 24, 2014

Take 6 Concert – September 14, 2014

GNH Golf Tournament at Sugar Valley Country Club – October 6, 2014

Mobile Market at The Foodbank

Mobile Market at the Foodbank









When we moved into our new warehouse last December, we knew we wanted to give back to our new neighborhood. Each month this summer we are holding a Farmers Market, right here at our warehouse, to serve our neighbors in West Dayton.


The Foodbank held its first Farmers Market on location at the end of July. All hands were on deck, and volunteers were called in to provide our neighborhood with over 3400 pounds of fresh produce including corn, watermelon, green beans, and onions. Access to fresh foods is limited for many of our neighbors. We know that many families in our community do not have adequate transportation to and from the grocery, and others simply do not have the funds available to purchase costly fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of our neighbors were able to walk or carpool just a short distance to our warehouse. Our staff is looking forward to hosting another Farmers Market at the end of August where our neighbors will once again be welcome to receive fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables.