Making a Difference: Woman once turned away from food bank now helping others

There was a time in Nichole Adkins’ life when she turned to a food bank for help, and she said it turned her away.

She has come a long way since that day in 1999. Now, she runs With God’s Grace mobile food pantry and its new brick-and-mortar store in Dayton.

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Adkins still vividly remembers the food bank not willing to help her as she faced divorce and the family van being repossessed.

“I went eight months eating one meal every third day,” she said.

Adkins did this so her kids would not go hungry.

Fast forward to 2015 and Adkins had found her way to a better place financially.

“A church locally I belonged to needed help with Thanksgiving, and my coupon group actually came into play. We were able to supply food for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said.

From then on, Adkins made it her life’s mission to help feed the hungry in our community.

“When a child is going hungry, I know how that feels. I don’t want a child or human being in our community going without food,” she said.

With God’s Grace started with mobile food pantries. And then in late 2020, it opened its first store. Volunteer Betty Harmon and others had been looking for ways to thank Adkins for her hard work and dedication to the community, and they heard about the Jeff Schmitt Auto Group’s, Jeff’s Hero’s Program.

They nominated Adkins for a chance to win a new car and $10,000 from the auto group. WHIO was there when Jay Schmitt, President of Schmitt Auto Group, made a surprise visit to With God’s Grace Pantry.

The moment Schmitt saw Adkins he said, “Hi Nichole, congratulations. You are our first Jeff’s Hero.”

Adkins looked stunned and said, “Are you joking? Thank you guys, I didn’t know.”

Schmitt told WHIO when he first heard about Adkins’ story, “I cried more than I care to admit.”

Adkins said the new car means her volunteers will no longer have to drive their own vehicles to pick and deliver food. She went on to talk about how grateful she is for everyone who played a part in With God’s Grace getting food to people in our community.

She sees how it’s making a difference every day.

“We have a 74 year old man who comes in now and says he’s living to 115 because he’s now able to eat healthy. Before he was not able to afford it,” Adkins said.