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Foodbank Fights Hunger with Annual Campaign

Community Comes Together to Support Hunger Relief Efforts: Aims to Provide 4.54 Million Meals

Article by Jacquie Mazziotta and Brian Bailey

Photography by Supplied by Akron Canton Regional Foodbank

Originally published in Canton Lifestyle

As inflation continues to wreak havoc on the daily cost of living, the most vulnerable often find themselves living paycheck-to-paycheck and sometimes forced to choose between paying an electric bill or buying food. Nearly 53,000 Canton residents are food insecure, and over 15,000 are children. Many circumstances lead people to the food line, including generational poverty, a major medical expense, car repair or job loss.

“More than half of the folks we are serving are under the age of 18, and we see a lot of senior citizens,” explains Raven Gayheart, public relations and communications manager at the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank. “Most times seniors are trying to live on a fixed income. In many situations, social impacts have forced grandparents to take care of their grandchildren. Others may have lost a job and never needed to ask for help before and have found themselves in a food line.”

The Akron Canton Regional Foodbank needs your help to feed the community. The Foodbank’s 32nd Annual Harvest for Hunger Campaign is now underway. The goal for the Campaign is to provide the equivalent of 4.54 million meals, including $1.12 million and 100,000 pounds of food. All proceeds from the Campaign go directly to providing food for the local community, distributed through the Foodbank’s network of nearly 600 food pantries, hot meal sites, shelters, children and senior citizen programs and other hunger-relief programs.

The Campaign is led by co-chairs Bernett L. Williams, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer; vice president for community initiatives at Akron Children’s Hospital, and Mark Sterling, CEO of Beaver Constructors.

“The Campaign continues to be successful because of the faithful support of community organizations and businesses like yours,” said Bernett. “It always amazes me to see so many community partners come together to rally behind one common cause, feeding people and fighting hunger.”

The Harvest for Hunger Campaign is the Foodbank’s largest fundraising campaign and helps support food distribution all year long. In addition to raising needed funds and food items for the Foodbank’s eight-county service area, the Campaign hopes to educate the community on the tough choices people struggling with hunger are often forced to make, like choosing between groceries and other basic necessities. 

“Many government benefit programs sprang into action when the pandemic hit. After the initial rush of people losing jobs and needing help, we started to see the need taper off, but then when inflation shook families and damaged their ability to budget, we started to see an increase in need again,” Raven says.

Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the Foodbank, recently released the organization’s new strategic 3-year plan, highlighting five focus areas in which the Foodbank hopes to deepen its impact.  It includes Neighbors, the people seeking help with groceries; Communities, the community partners committed to hunger relief in its eight-county service area; Investors, those who donate food, money or time to the organization; Foodbankers, its staff; and the Foodbank, the entity as an organization.

“We engaged in countless conversations with families receiving food, hunger-relief partners, volunteers, donors, community leaders to collaboratively develop a new strategic plan that moves us closer to our vision of a thriving community free of hunger,” said Dan.   

The Harvest for Hunger Campaign is a collaborative partnership between the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley and the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio and focuses on fighting hunger across 21 counties in Northeast Ohio.

Interested in Participating?

DONATE ONLINE:

Harvest for Hunger is the Foodbank’s largest fundraising campaign with 100% of donations applied to providing food to the local community. Donations can be made through the Foodbank’s website at AkronCantonFoodbank.org/harvest.

CHECK OUT HUNGER:

Shop at participating retailers and make a $10, $5 or $1 donation as you Check Out Hunger. Local participating grocery stores include Buehler’s, Giant Eagle, Fishers Foods and GetGo.

VOLUNTEER:

Volunteers are needed to answer phones, drive food trucks, help people shop for groceries at the Stark County pantry campus, restock food and more. Learn how you can volunteer with Akron Canton Regional Foodbank or sign up to be a part of the Foodbank Advocacy Network by visiting AkronCantonFoodbank.org/advocate.

Tri-County Restaurant Association Celebrity Cuisine

The 31st annual Tri-County Restaurant Association Celebrity Cuisine, presented by Atlantic Food Distributors, will be held Tuesday, April 18 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Food enthusiasts from, all over Northeast Ohio will delight in a feast of local flavors, including unlimited access to appetizers, entrée samples, beer, wine and desserts. The evening will include live music, entertainment by The Kenny & JT Show of News-Talk 1480 WHBC, a silent auction and raffles. Tickets are available for $50 and must be purchased in advance.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit AkronCantonFoodbank.org/events.