Group has been giving away food to hundreds for more than year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 December 2014 at 12:00 am

World Life Institute runs program serving 400-plus

Photos by Tom Rivers – Ibrahim Shakoor helps sorts food that would be given away this morning by the World Life Institute, which is based in Waterport.

MEDINA – Medina area residents, many of them senior citizens on fixed incomes, started lining up at 8:30 this morning outside the Old Mill Run Restaurant on Route 63. Some of them would stand for more than 2 hours, waiting for the food from Foodlink to be set up on tables by volunteers and given away.

Many of the people walked from nearby Ricky Place, pushing small carts. Others carried bags and boxes.

For more than a year, the World Life Institute has worked with Foodlink on the food giveaway. About 200 people come for the food the first and third Saturdays of the month. A Foodlink truck arrives with the food, and about 15 to 20 volunteers then break the boxes of food into smaller containers.

A crowd gathers in the parking lot at the Old Mill Run Restaurant in Medina in this photo looking under a Foodlink truck.

Another 200 to 400 people who aren’t in the line also usually receive some of the food. Family and friends in line will take it to them, or some of the WLI volunteers will deliver it.

The effort started in November 2013. Bilal Huzair, owner of the Old Mill Run and a WLI member, was willing to use his restaurant and parking lot as a distribution point.

“We didn’t have an expectation,” Huzair said this morning. “We just knew there was a need.”

Bilal Huzair stacks up some frozen pizzas.

Some of the people in line were younger adults, struggling to get a job. Others had jobs that didn’t pay enough to cover all of their bills. The first people in line were senior citizens.

Several said they are on fixed incomes and have seen their medical costs rise with healthcare and prescriptions. One woman has a husband with cancer. She sought assistance through social services but was denied.

“They said I make $2 too much,” she said.

Harris Lieberman, left, and Jacob Zimmerman help set up a table with fruits and vegetables.

One man stood in the parking lot for more than two hours, with the outside temperature in the mid 20s.

“When you’re a senior and on Social Security, you either eat or take your medicine,” he said. “I’m here because every little bit helps.”

An anonymous donor has been paying Foodlink for the food that is given out with help from the World Life Institute.

“These are people who genuinely need things,” Huzair said.

Ali Carter from the World Life Institute helps unpack the food this morning.

Marie Scott also volunteers helping to get the food ready.