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Sharing farm-fresh produce

By AMANDA GODFREY, godfrey@sanduskyregister.com

Sandusky - More than 100 people stood in line Wednesday for the first Second Harvest and Care and Share Farmer’s Market.
Many patrons lined up half an hour early in the parking lot behind First Presbyterian Church, watching as volunteers unloaded fresh produce.

By the time the market officially opened at 3 p.m., the line had grown so long it wrapped around the church.
Volunteers unwrapped fuzzy peaches, bagged radishes and arranged crisp green peppers, zucchini, ears of sweet corn, watermelons and baskets of blackberries the size of quarters.

“Those are the biggest berries I’ve seen,” volunteer Ellis Sloan said. “Look at them. They’re going to love them. I love doing this, helping out, and I love these people.”

Once the semi carrying the produce was unloaded, Second Harvest volunteers estimated it had been filled with 9,885 pounds of farm fresh food.

The organization piloted the program as a way to bring the bounty of the season to low-income families in the region. Much of the produce distributed comes from farms in Huron County.

The produce is distributed as part of a state-wide Ohio Agriculture Clearance Program funded through the state’s biennial budget and administered by the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food banks.

Second Harvest executive director Julie Chase-Morefield said the opportunity to provide the produce not only helps families, but also farmers who have trouble distributing perishable crops.

“We’ve had such a phenomenal response,” she said. “Having fresh produce to provide to families is very important. We’re grateful and thankful we’re able to do this. It helps families and farmers who are also experiencing rough times. It’s a win-win situation.”

Bev Lizanich, agency relations coordinator, said rising gas and food prices negatively impact nutrition.
“Because of the high cost of fresh produce, a lot of people end up cutting it out of their diets,” she said. “They’ll stock up on bread and milk and items like that, which is great, but nutrition wise, they need that produce.”
Care and Share director Dan Ward said the organization notified all its clients of the event and remained optimistic the rain would hold out for the three-hour event.

“This is absolutely great,” he said smiling. “We’re able to provide fresh farm food to all of our people. We’re so glad, so grateful for them to do this.”

Families worked their way around the many boxes while volunteers helped fill their bags, boxes and strollers with produce.

Eli Teney, 6, couldn’t resist biting into a fresh peach before trailing his mother home on their two-block walk.
“It’s good,” he said with a toothy grin.

Volunteer Lenny Burkett grinned at the lines and at the stream of people making their way through the crowded parking lot.

“My wife (Lynn) and I volunteer because these are good people,” he said. “They don’t have much, but that doesn’t make them bad people. They’re good people having a rough time. They love us and we love them.”

photo of produce distribution

photo of produce distribution

picture of produce distribution

July 28, 2008

OHIO BENEFIT BANK TO ASSIST ELIGIBLE OHIOANS IN CLAIMING WORK SUPPORT, TAX BENEFITS AT OHIO STATE FAIR

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF) and The Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) are again partnering with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Office of Governor Ted Strickland to help Ohioans learn if they may be eligible for state or federal public benefits, tax credits and other assistance programs.  The organizations will have an on-site resource center available at the Ohio State Fair, July 30 – Aug. 10, where fair attendees can determine their access to these and other work supports.

Due to current economic struggles, thousands of Ohioans are turning to other resources for help. One resource is the OBB, a Web-based, counselor-assisted program that connects low- and moderate-income Ohioans with access to potential public benefits and work supports, such as children’s health care insurance; home energy assistance; child care subsidies; food stamps; and tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
 
“Growing unemployment, rising costs of food, and high fuel and utility costs are all factors forcing thousands of Ohioans into a position to find other means of support, such as The Ohio Benefit Bank,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, OASHF executive director. “For many of our clients, there is no place left in their budgets to cut. Most have already cut back and are still unable to meet the demand of bills and keeping food on their dinner tables.”

While many Ohioans are struggling, Hamler-Fugitt said that each year more than $1.6 billion in tax credits and other work supports go unclaimed by eligible Ohioans who do not apply. More than 95 percent of these unclaimed funds are federal dollars.

“Ohioans who qualify should take advantage of these important programs because claiming these dollars will bring more federal money to Ohio, acting as an economic stimulus to help boost the state’s economy,” said Hamler-Fugitt.

At the Ohio State Fair, trained counselors will be available to help fairgoers find out if they might be eligible for potential work support benefits. Additionally, counselors will educate retirees, disabled veterans and low-wage workers on the need to file tax returns to claim their economic stimulus rebate and refer them to local sites to file. These individuals usually are not required to file a return, but may still be eligible for up to $600.

Since September 1, 2006, OBB has grown to more than 680 sites in 78 of Ohio’s 88 counties, sponsored by nearly 400 faith-based, community and private sector organizations. More than 2,600 counselors across Ohio are trained to use the OBB to help low- and moderate-income Ohioans claim tax credits and public benefits for which they are eligible. Since the program’s inception, OBB has helped more than 27,000 Ohioans claim $26 million in tax credits and public benefits - $11 million in 2008 alone.

For more information or to locate an Ohio Benefit Bank site, call 1-800-648-1176 or visit www.OBB.Ohio.Gov.

CONTACT:

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, OASHF executive director, 614/221-4336 or 614/271-4803 (cell)
Hinda Mitchell or Diane Hurd at 614/224-0600600

TWELVE OHIO FOODBANKS RECEIVE EASTER MEALS FROM STATE’S EGG INDUSTRY

One million egg contribution continues long partnership between foodbanks & egg industry

The Ohio Poultry Association and Ohio’s egg producers are filling the tables and Easter baskets of 90,000 Ohio families, located in all 88 counties, this spring.  Six Ohio egg producers will donate more than one million eggs, to charities and hunger relief providers that are supported by the 12 Second Harvest Foodbanks in Ohio that are part of America’s Second Harvest. Eggs will start being delivered on March 6, and many will be delivered the week of March 10.

The contribution of 90,000 dozen eggs, or 1,080,000 eggs in all with an estimated retail value of more than $157,000, is one of several joint efforts that the foodbanks and Ohio’s egg industry have partnered on in the past seven years. This particular contribution also is part of a national donation campaign by United Egg Producers, representing egg farmers across the U.S., which has generated donations across the country during March that exceed 12 million eggs.

“Ohio eggs are a critical item for Ohio’s hunger relief provider, because they are a versatile, high-protein item that is a staple among Ohio’s needy families,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF), whose members are the state’s 12 Second Harvest foodbanks. “This unprecedented donation by the state’s egg producers is greatly appreciated as it is occurring at a time when many Ohio foodbanks are struggling to keep food on their shelves due to many external economic factors.”

Some of these factors include a severe shortage of government surplus commodities, a sharp decrease in food donated by food manufacturers, decline in federal bonus commodities, high fuel and utility costs, rising costs of food, and growing unemployment and job losses. The situation for foodbanks is so challenging that many agencies are reducing the amount of food they distribute to the needy in an effort to ration the modest supplies they have. Others are reducing their hours of operation and some have temporarily closed their doors until they get sufficient food on the shelves to meet demand.

“Ohio’s egg producers are honored and humbled to help Ohioans in need,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president, Ohio Poultry Association. “This contribution is just one example of our commitment to being a good neighbor in the communities where we live and work.” Chakeres said Ohio ranks second in the nation for egg production, and produces eight billion eggs each year with a value of more than $600 million.

Ohio’s egg producers participating in the donation program include Hillandale Farms/Ohio Fresh Eggs of Akron and Croton, OH; Ft. Recovery Equity of Fort Recovery, OH; Cal-Maine Farms of Rossburg, OH; Hemmelgarn & Sons, Inc. of Coldwater, OH; Hertzfeld Poultry Farms of Grand Rapids, OH; and Weaver Brothers, Inc. of Versailles, OH.

OASHF also has been working with Ohio’s egg industry since 2001 to provide eggs to foodbanks as part of the Ohio Agricultural Surplus Clearance Program. The program is a joint venture between OASHF, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Ohio’s agriculture producers to provide low-income Ohioans with the food they and their families need. Since the surplus program partnership began, Ohio’s egg producers have supplied more than three million dozen eggs to the foodbank network.

OASHF and its network of providers serve more than 1.2 million Ohioans each year, distributing more than 92 million pounds of food and grocery items. Of those clients served, more than 150,000 are seniors, and nearly 422,000 are children.

For more information regarding Ohio foodbanks and Ohio’s hunger relief programs, please visit www.oashf.org or call 614/221-4336.

Ohio Hunger and Poverty Trends Dtailed in New Publication

New Report Chronicles Participation and Service Gaps in Ohio in Eight Federal Nutrition Programs, Calls on Congress to Seize Opportunities to Strengthen Programs

June 5, 2007 – The nation’s federal nutrition programs have a wide reach, but too many Ohio residents continue to slip through the nutrition safety net, according to a new report released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks released the Ohio data and called on state policymakers, agencies, and the Ohio Congressional delegation to seize opportunities to strengthen programs that get food to struggling households. Read more.

Ohio - Demographics, Poverty, and Food Insecutity Report

Waiting in the Food Line (video)

August 27, 2003 60 Minutes II Scott Pelley report on those who need help to get groceries

(CBS)  With unemployment rising, there has been a sudden leap in the number of people on emergency food assistance. And in Ohio, some of the food lines look as if they've been taken from the pages of the Great Depression. It’s not just the unemployed. Plenty of people working full time are still not able to earn enough to keep hunger out of the house.

So if you think you have a good idea of who's hungry in America today, you may be wrong. Correspondent Scott Pelley reports on this story, which last aired this winter. Read the full story

 

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Fighting hunger is easier than you think. Here are four simple ways to make a difference:

  • Make a donation. Every dollar you donate provides five meals to hungry Ohioans. All monetary donations are tax deductible.
  • Coordinate regular food drives. Encourage your peers at work, school, your church or in your neighborhood to donate non-perishable items and canned goods. Also consider canned goods as part of admission to local events you may be planning.
  • Be your neighborhood’s resource person and drop-off. Many people will donate if they know how to participate. You can be the conduit.
  • Volunteer. Serve others at a soup kitchen or pantry, or help sort food at a local foodbank.