Faith-Based Spotlight: CAIN-Churches Active in Northside

boy choosing apple at CAIN's food pantry

Organization:
CAIN-Churches Active in Northside is a non-profit faith-based organization of neighborhood churches in Northside. Each month, nearly 400 vulnerable families rely on CAIN for its emergency food pantry, help with rent and utilities, access to federal benefit assistance, and other services. CAIN’s Rainbow of Choice Food Pantry had 4,198 visits in 2010.

Community:
Northside is a neighborhood in Cincinnati with a population of 9,389. Learn more at Northside's WeTHRIVE! page.

WeTHRIVE! Contacts:
MiMi Chamberlin is Executive Director of CAIN; Nash Traylor coordinates the Healthy Food for All initiative. WeTHRIVE! talked with MiMi and Nash during a recent visit to CAIN.

How CAIN THRIVES!:

  • Rainbow of Choice Food Pantry: Instead of just getting a bag of items, guests choose what they want from a variety of foods to provide healthy, balanced meals and snacks for their families. Pantry shelves are labeled by food group. Items for special diets, such as low sodium, are marked so they are easy to find.
  • Healthy Food for All: Through this initiative, last year CAIN provided an estimated 30,000 pounds of fresh produce to its food pantry guests. The produce comes from the Freestore Foodbank, the Northside Farmers Market and CAIN’s community garden. Items are labeled and often include a recipe or a sample to taste.
  • Community Garden: The on-site garden provides fresh vegetables for the pantry. CAIN also encourages home gardens. This past summer, they gave out 108 tomato and pepper plants.
  • Another for a Neighbor: CAIN is an active partner and participant in the Northside Farmers Market. At the year-round weekly market, they encourage shoppers to buy extra produce to donate to the food pantry. The farmers also donate their leftover produce at the end of the market day.
  • Healthy on a Budget: CAIN is very close to getting approval for the Northside Farmers Market to be able to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) payments. This is key to increasing healthy food access in a neighborhood that lacks a full-service grocery store. While researching the process of getting SNAP approval for the market, MiMi discovered the little-known fact that SNAP benefits can be used to purchase fruit and vegetable seeds and plants. This new knowledge will help CAIN’s clients stretch their food dollars even more!
  • Educate and Empower: CAIN offers monthly nutrition classes and a canning workshop in the fall. The walls inside the food pantry are covered in colorful MyPlate and food group signs and posters.

In their own words:
The following is an excerpt from an essay that CAIN volunteer Karl Miller wrote about adding fresh produce to the food pantry: “Best of all we see our guests eagerly choosing from a wide selection of fresh produce. We hear lively discussions about the best way of preparing yellow squash, greens, eggplant, etc. Previously unfamiliar vegetables and fruits are sought after. A lot of learning is going on.”

See photos of CAIN's food pantry on the WeTHRIVE! facebook page. CAIN is also on Facebook. Do you know a person, business or organization that THRIVES!? Join the movement and let us know.