The History of Youngstown Community Food Center

Joseph Lordi was in the prime of his life when everything fell apart.

He had a successful career in the grocery business, a growing family and a beautiful home. Within months, his lost his business, his house went into foreclosure and his marriage started to fall apart.

"The love that is lost between a husband and wife over financial debt is devastating," Lordi said. "I know this first-hand."

Life wasn't always so hard. For several years Lordi worked as an assistant manager at a grocery chain until he felt he had enough experience to venture out on his own and open a family-run store. He and his two brothers ran the small business and eventually opened a second location.

"This was our downfall," Lordi said. "We lost our business and went our separate ways."

The workload proved to be too much for the brothers and business started to slow. A downturn in the local economy put an end to their stores.

As president of the venture, Lordi was left liable for taxes, business loans and all other debt. As bills mounted for the business, so did debt in his personal life. Lordi was forced to apply for welfare and food stamps to support his wife and four daughters.

Then, a new business idea came.

Lordi began petitioning local businesses with letters asking for donated food and supplies, and began giving away the surplus donations out of his 1978 station wagon.

"I thought if I could get donated food, I could help other families in my position," he said.

When one of his letters landed in the hands of a local mall developer, the developer offered Lordi a vacant grocery building where he could expand his food outreach program.

Lordi accepted the offer and went from feeding 75 people a week out of his Oldsmobile in 1985 to 7,590 families a month currently. He named the outreach Youngstown Community Food Center, Inc.

Thanks to Operation Blessing's Hunger Strike Force, which delivers food to the center on a regular basis, Lordi is able to distribute food to 110 churches, crisis centers, veterans' centers, rescue missions, area schools, minority organizations and housing complexes for the elderly.

"I know what it was like," Lordi said about needing food and a helping hand. "I went through it. Our goal is to give people a hand up, not a hand out."


Every day, the fleet of Hunger Strike Force trucks are on the road, delivering nutritious food and essential supplies to thousands facing hunger and poverty. With your help, we can continue to impact lives and give hope to those who need it most. Consider donating to the Youngstown Community Food Bank by clicking HERE