LORAIN — With more than 13 percent of Lorain County’s population — or roughly 40,000 people — lacking consistent access to food, the Second Harvest Food Bank is aggressively aiming to top its 2017 Harvest for Hunger campaign total.
Harvest for Hunger, one of Northeast Ohio’s largest food drives that covers 21 counties, raised enough money locally to provide 1 million meals in the previous year. This year, the agency wants to exceed that million-meal mark.
Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio CEO Julie Chase-Morefield said the agency, which acts as a distributor for food pantries, soup kitchens and meal programs in Lorain, Crawford, Huron and Erie counties, would need to raise between $200,000 and $250,000 locally to hit that number. Every $1 donated equals five or more meals distributed, she said.
Harvest for Hunger 2018 kicks off Feb. 13 and runs through April.
“This is a time when everyone seems to forget a little bit about hunger now that the holidays are over, but this is actually the time when our food pantries, soup kitchens and meal programs are quite busy,” Chase-Morefield said. “Harvest for Hunger is very important because its all about how we alleviate hunger and help families have access to food.”
Chase-Morefield said many of the food insecure in the county — the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active and healthy life — are children. Of the more than 40,000 people wondering where their next meals will come from, 14,620 are children. Nearly 21 percent of all children in Lorain County are food insecure.
“It’s just heartbreaking to know there are so many children that don’t have enough to eat,” said County Commissioner Lori Kokoski, who is being tapped this year to serve as the campaign’s honorary chairwoman. Kokoski said Tuesday that she visited Second Harvest’s more than 41,000-square-foot food distribution center on Baumhart Road and was amazed at the efficiencies in sorting and packing boxes of food intended for Lorain County homes.
The facility will serve as the site for a kickoff event 4 p.m. Tuesday.
There, campaign coordinators will hear about how businesses, organizations and community groups can become a part of the efforts.
The most visible part of the Harvest for Hunger campaign is seen at local Giant Eagle and Heinen’s grocery stories, where shoppers can donate to the cause at checkout. But local companies can hold their own campaigns to raise money and food.
Chase-Morefield said companies like Bendix, the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant, Northwest Bank and Macy’s Technology make Harvest for Hunger a part of their community efforts. But everyone in the community can get involved around the shared ideal of feeding families and neighbors.
“There isn’t a community that isn’t served by a food bank or meal program,” Chase-Morefield said.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.