CLEVELAND — Trials for Hope has a system after years of innovation. The food slides down a wheeled conveyer ramp, is packed on a dolly, and then is stocked on the shelf.

What You Need To Know

  • Trials for Hope is a food pantry in Cleveland that's been around since 2010

  • Every Wednesday, the nonprofit delivers food to people in need

  • Trials for Hope also gives back to people who are unsheltered, hosts community meals and provides toys to children during the holidays

“I love it, my back loves it too, and so does the guy that works on my back,” said Jonathan Gray.

He founded Trials for Hope in Cleveland in 2010. It started out of his home.

“It’s about basic dignity so people can feel respected,” he said.

The food pantry is currently housed in the basement of a community center.

“At the end of the day, our hope is that some people had a better day because of the services that we were allowed to offer,” said Gray.

The team unloaded 5,000 pounds of food from the Greater Cleveland Food Bank on Wednesday. COVID-19 has increased the amount of people seeking help.

“More people are in need, but more people are working together and that’s the beautiful part is the collaboration,” said Gray.

Throughout his life, Gray has struggled with many things like mental illness and addiction. He’s been on food stamps. He’s slept on friend’s floors.

“And I needed to do something to get out of myself. And you got to give away to keep it,” he said.

Helping others helped Gray help himself. Right now, he’s in a much more stable place.

“I changed. And I have a saying that once you know you cannot un-know,” said Gray.

Gray considers providing food, toiletries, and connection to people in need his responsibility — his calling.

“In spite of all the damage is that, there’s something in me that can help make a difference,” he said.

A small team of staff and volunteers make these food giveaways possible. Trials for Hope partners with lots of other agencies, too.

The food giveaway effort used to be a market where people could choose what they wanted to eat, but COVID-19 turned it into food bag deliveries every Wednesday.

"We’re not like the usual pantry,” said Gray.

Wednesday, they packed 49 bags of different kinds of meat, canned goods, and other food items. This time, is to deliver to people living in Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority units.

"The most meaningful job I’ve ever had. Best job I’ve ever had,” said A.J. McRainey, a staff member at Trials for Hope.

Trials for Hope is more than a food pantry. The nonprofit give back to people who are unsheltered, hosts community meals, and around the holidays, provides toys to children.

Gray is grateful for the people they are able to help, but he wants to do more to fight hunger.

“My hope is we can do more,” he said.