Second Harvest Food Bank kicks off Harvest for Hunger Campaign
By Graig Graziosi
The Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley kicked off its Harvest for Hunger campaign Thursday morning.
Harvest for Hunger is an annual food and funds drive meant to replenish the shelves of the food bank during the spring and summer when donations typically diminish.
Last year, the event raised $232,783 and nearly 29,000 pounds of food were collected throughout the course of the campaign.
All of the funds raised and food collected remains in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Food donations can be made directly to Second Harvest Food Bank Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or at participating Giant Eagle and Sparkle markets. Monetary donations can be made directly to the food bank or through the purchase of donation tickets – available in $1, $5 and $10 “coupons” – at Giant Eagle and Sparkle markets between Feb. 18 and March 31.
Food-bank representatives said that while food donations – in particular items such as canned vegetables, dried pasta, cereal, tuna fish and peanut butter – are always needed, that every $1 of monetary donations allows the group to distribute $11 worth of food.
Michael Iberis, the executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank, led the event, speaking to an audience of supporters at the food bank’s distribution warehouse on Salt Springs Road.
Throughout the launch event, Iberis shared stories of children who were benefiting from local school pantry programs – such as the one at Boardman Center Intermediate School – and how the Harvest for Hunger impacts those programs.
“Thanks to our partners and our supporters in the business community, the media and the community at large, we’ve been able to expand the school pantry program from one school to 11,” Iberis said.
School pantry programs allow students to select food items to take home with them if they’re in need of food assistance.
Burt Stellers, the principal of Daw Elementary in Wellsville, spoke at the event, explaining how the Boardman food pantry inspired his district to implement one of its own and partner with the food bank.
“We want to see the hunger go away in our district,” Stellers said.
A number of elected officials and their representatives also attended the event, including Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, Columbiana Mayor Bryan Blakeman and representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th.