“We enjoyed sharing food with the families in our neighborhoods,” said Young. “It was a great opportunity for us to go door-to-door to make sure the neighbors are taken care of.”


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to uncover stark inequities across our communities, and few organizations have seen this as clearly as Cincinnati-based BLOC Ministries.


Located in neighborhood adjacent to downtown Cincinnati, BLOC Ministries focuses on building relationships and sharing hope with its neighbors. The team works to cultivate an atmosphere that promotes growth, acceptance, love and opportunity. They take the unique approach of living in the neighborhoods in which they work to be closer to those they serve, not to mention, they run several coffee shops that make an outstanding latte.


The Kroger Foundation began our relationship with BLOC Ministries in 2018, when the organizations launched a teaching kitchen and chef training program in the heart of Price Hill.


A change of plans

As with many organizations, the pandemic turned BLOC Ministries’ 2020 plans upside down. When COVID-19 began to have clear impacts in Greater Cincinnati, the Kroger Foundation provided BLOC Ministries with one of its first COVID-19-specific relief grants – all targeted to connecting people with the food they needed during this difficult time.



“We were feeding about 750 people a week pre-COVID,” said Dr. Dwight Young, executive director of BLOC Ministries. “We quickly pivoted to providing more than 12,000 meals a month.”


Of those meals, many went to trafficked women, young people in the juvenile justice center and at-risk adults in a 14-story senior center.


“We would also just make food, box it up and pass it out,” said Young.


BLOC Ministries kept its commitments to its neighbors by continuing to provide food for participants in an after-school program they created well before the pandemic. Often these students were reliant on the free or reduced-price meal programs in schools for their meals, which ended when schools closed, making the boxed lunches BLOC Ministries provided even more important.


“We enjoyed sharing food with the families in our neighborhoods,” said Young. “It was a great opportunity for us to go door-to-door to make sure the neighbors are taken care of.”


The Kroger Foundation’s early grant was able to provide the BLOC Ministries team with the financial support they needed to bring direct aid to the Price Hill neighborhood.


“We appreciated the grant – without it, we wouldn’t have been able to feed so many people,” said Young. “When you live here, you get phone calls and text messages from neighbors asking for help for families. The grant helped us meet so many needs.”


The BLOC Ministries team was quick to support Kroger associates as well. They brought pizzas to associates working long hours in their neighborhood store during the height of the pandemic. This act of kindness brought many smiles to the store team.


The need continues

As Greater Cincinnati continues to reel from the impact of the pandemic, BLOC Ministries still supports its neighbors; now the shortfalls they are seeing are changing.


“Every Wednesday, we still do boxed lunches,” said Young. “Now, meat is difficult to find – most of our neighbors aren’t able to get enough protein to complete a balanced plate.”


The team is currently serving between 400 and 500 families a week. But, with sharp changes in the number of COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County and those counties around it, the team could return to preparing and delivering more meals.


To learn more about BLOC Ministries and support its ongoing work, please visit http://www.onebloc.org/.