Inspire Dayton: Couple who run local food pantry ‘are the most selfless and hard working people’

While the Fairborn FISH Pantry has fed hungry people since the 1970s, this year it played a crucial role in the community.

The pantry is a nonprofit organization that provides food, and assists with utility bills and rent. Jane and Bill Doorley are the husband and wife team who run the pantry, along with about 50 other volunteers. Both are retired, but work 50 to 60 hours per week at the food pantry.

“They are the most selfless and hard working people I know,” said Pam Gayheart, who works in communications at Fairborn Schools and nominated the Doorleys for our Inspire Dayton series. “They truly make a difference in Fairborn and they inspire all of us to give back and care about our neighbors.”

People across the Dayton region have persevered and banded together this year, like the Doorleys. Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of individuals who have inspired others.

The pantry has seen about a 50% increase in need for food assistance, Jane Doorley said. It is providing food for about 300 families each week, which is up to about 700 people. About 40% of its current clients have never been to a food pantry before.

“It’s heartbreaking when you talk to them, to feel that, what that experience is like for them,” Jane Doorley said.

The pantry is also seeing more families who have lost their homes and are living with relatives. A woman will pull up in a car with her kids, her sister and her sister’s kids in the backseat, Jane Doorley said. The pantry will give out sleeping bags and pillows for those families so they can coexist with their relatives, she said.

“We’re seeing lately the need is more intense. The federal stimulus checks have long been spent,” she said.

The pantry has paid rent and utility bills for people through CARES Act money the city of Fairborn received. Without the CARES Act money, the pantry wouldn’t have been able to help as many people as they have, Jane Jane Doorley said.

The Fairborn food pantry helps everyone, she said. When base employees are furloughed, they go to FISH. About 20% of Wright State students are food insecure, she said, so the pantry helps college students.

Single parents working two or three jobs might not have time to go to the food pantry when it’s open on Tuesdays and Fridays, Doorley said, so it’s piloting a new program with The Foodbank, which serves people in the Miami Valley, to set a time to pick up their food after 5 p.m.

The pantry has become a mini-community center, she said, and she tries to get to know everyone who comes in.

The volunteers at Fairborn FISH inspire Jane Doorley to keep going.

“You can see when they’re talking to the neighbors in need, their generosity and love and kindness toward their neighbors,” she said.

Inspire Dayton

Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of people who have persevered and inspired others during this challenging year. Tell us who inspired you in 2020 by emailing

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