COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – By the end of this year, those who operate The Oasis Food Ministry in Columbiana say they will be closing their doors for good.

“The people that started it are still in the program 10 years later, and there just aren’t people stepping up to take the place,” said Cheney Nezbeth with The Way Station.

Volunteers running Oasis said they notified leaders with the First Christian Church, where the pantry is located, that they needed to step down back in August, when no replacements could be found. It was decided to close after Dec. 8.

The move could leave The Way Station across town as the only pantry still in the city. It comes at a time when its two facilities in Columbiana County already serve about 56,000 meals a year.

“If we were to take on another food pantry, I could see us getting closer to 80,000 meals per year. We simply don’t have the volunteer help to make that happen,” Nezbeth said.

Nezbeth admits keeping volunteers is a problem facing social service agencies everywhere. She says many are seniors who may still be hesitant about being around large crowds because of COVID-19, and younger ones are hard to find.

“They just don’t have the time in their day while raising families to volunteer also,” Nezbeth said.

Although the eventual closing of Oasis will still leave other food pantries in this part of Columbiana County, Nezbeth says it will be difficult for some food recipients to simply pick up and go somewhere else.

For now, Nezbeth says she’s talking with the directors of the Second Harvest Food Bank to see what has to be done to fill the void after Oasis closes. She says it may mean expanding the services that The Way Station offers.