Goal is to raise $865,000 and provide 3.5 million meals
Community leaders gathered at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to kick off the 21st Harvest for Hunger campaign, one of the largest food and funds drives in the country. While food distribution is up 50 percent in the last four years, the number of food insecure individuals in the Foodbank’s eight-county service area has reached an all-time high at 16.2 percent. With the need for food now greater than ever before, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is encouraging community participation to reach its local goal of $865,000 for the 2012 campaign.
Harvest for Hunger helps make free food available to the more than 450 agency programs operated by the Foodbank, such as hot meal sites, soup kitchens and pantries. The campaign is a collaborative effort of four food banks serving 21 counties in northeast Ohio. Participating food banks include the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Cleveland Foodbank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley and the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.
The local 2012 Harvest for Hunger campaign is being led by two respected leaders from the healthcare industry, William H. Considine, President & CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital and Edward J. Roth, III, President & CEO of Aultman Health Foundation. Considine spoke at the campaign kick-off encouraging the community to get involved for this great cause. Considine shared, “It is amazing to realize how many more of our families now require assistance to feed their children. Never, in the more than 30 years I have been privileged to serve Akron Children's Hospital and this region, has this most basic need been greater. I know our community will continue to open their hearts to help keep our children and their parents fed.”
At this year’s kick-off event, Considine joined other community leaders as they gathered together at a dinner table with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s new spokesperson, Kate. She was young with a quiet demeanor, but the message she delivered was powerful.
Kate is a fictional character and was introduced as part of an innovative video, representing the situation many children find themselves in when their parents lose their jobs. Dan Flowers, President and CEO of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank shared how the video helps spread the message about hunger in the area. He encouraged the community to set an extra plate at the dinner table for Kate and leave it empty. Flowers said, “Let the plate be a reminder of the many individuals in our community that don’t have enough to eat each day.”
There are two major components to the Harvest for Hunger campaign, food and funds drives and Check Out Hunger. Nearly 300 businesses, schools, community organizations and families are holding food and funds drives throughout the months of March and April. Food and funds drive coordinators can register and download a coordinator’s kit from the Foodbank’s website.
Local supermarket chains are participating in Check Out Hunger, which allows shoppers to scan coupons and make donations of $1, $5 or $10 at the check-out register. Check Out Hunger is available at Buehler’s Fresh Foods, Dave’s Supermarkets, Fishers Foods, Giant Eagle, and Heinen’s Fine Foods. This program runs from February 26 through April 7 at all stores operated by the five supermarkets within the 21-county campaign region, and is supported by the members of UFCW Local 880.
The biggest impact in the fight against hunger is made through financial donations. Every $1 donation provides four meals for people in need. Donations are accepted at the Foodbank by phone, mail or online at www.akroncantonfoodbank.org.
“There are more than 106,000 food insecure people in our service area that are ineligible for federal assistance and have nowhere to turn for help but to us”.” said Flowers. “Let’s bring this campaign home. Let’s help them. But, we can’t do it without each one of you.”
Additional support for Harvest for Hunger is provided by local media sponsors including the Akron Beacon Journal, The Independent, The Repository, The Suburbanite and The Times-Reporter. Television and radio sponsors include WJW-Fox 8, WKYC-TV3, WOIO 19 Action News, WEWS Channel 5 and Clear Channel radio stations.
High resolution photos from the event