Elected officials volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank


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By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A handful of elected officials volunteered their time at the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley, giving back to the organization that provides food to the hungry in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.

“They do great things here,” said Hubbard Mayor John Darko at the food bank’s location on Salt Springs Road. “It’s helpful to the entire area.”

The elected officials as well a staff representatives for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, took thousands of pounds of loose sweet potatoes Friday and packaged them into 5-pound bags.

The sweet potatoes and other food is distributed to 150 hunger-relief agencies – including church pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and school pantries – in the three-county area, said Michael Iberis, Second Harvest’s executive director.

More than 15,000 people are fed through those agencies a week, he said. Last year, the food bank distributed 10.6 million pounds of food, including more than 3 million pounds of produce, he said.

In 2017, volunteers gave more than 13,000 hours at the food bank, Iberis said.

This is the first year the food bank had elected officials volunteer.

“Our community needs the food bank,” said Columbiana Mayor Bryan Blakeman. “The food bank works for the community. It makes sense for us to give back.”

Jordan Pennell, Brown’s Northeast Ohio regional representative, said he was excited to volunteer.

“Most of the work is done behind a desk, so it’s nice to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty,” he said as he grabbed a handful of sweet potatoes.

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