Woman feeding tornado victims everyday forced to pause operations

Local News

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN)- When people in Harrison Township hear music coming from the gazebo at Shiloh Springs Church, they know it is time to eat. 

Since the Memorial Day tornadoes, Neah Rainey has set up shop inviting tornado victims, or anyone in need of a warm meal, to fill up a plate with food.

“I get up every morning, get the kids off to school and start cooking,” Rainey said.

She said she cooks most of the food she serves. People have come to rely on her. Many folks walk to the gazebo from neighboring streets, some take the bus and others drive there.

“We’ve been feeding about 100 to 150 people a day, six days a week,” Rainey said.

Rainey funded the operation with money from her own baking business and with donations from the community. Counsin Vinny’s Pizza supplied pizza on Saturdays.

She’s only missed a handful of days since the May storms. 

“With the seasons changing it started bothering me but I got it all together and came around back,” Rainey said.

The weather is changing again. It’s getting colder and there’s no shelter from the winter elements under the gazebo. The pumpkin patch at the church starts Sunday. That all means Rainey had to put an end to her free meals on Saturday.

She hopes to find a new space to continue her good work. 

“It’s very difficult when you know so many mouths in an area will be without proper food,” Rainey said.

She said her ideal space has a commercial kitchen. That would allow her to cook her meals for the community and run her baking business. She said she would like a place that allows people to come in from the cold. A mob’le kitchen or food truck would work as well in case an emergency would ever require her to be mobile.

“I feel for Ms. Rainey. She puts her heart and soul into this,” said Melissa Rodriguez. She met Rainey a few days after the Memorial Day tornadoes and has helped her ever since. She the two have become good friends. She admires how much Rainey has not only committed to feeding he community but how much she has been there to support those she feeds.

“Some people who have cars will be able to follow her but folks that don’t have transportation, shes really concerned about that so that makes me sad for her,” Rodriguez said.

She said the work is exhausting.

“I’m tired, aching, everything of that nature but I sleep it off and come back with new energy, ” Rainey said.

With the area dubbed a food desert and Kroger in Northridge announcing its departure, she knows there are people who still need her. 

“I don’t mind the work. I don’t mind the work to get out here and to continue feeding people. I just need help,” Rainey said.

If you know a location that could be suitable for Rainey’s operation in the Harrison Township or Northridge area, you can contact her at 937-867-6042.

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