Updated March 18, 2013: This post has been updated to reflect ways you can support the 2013 Harvest for Hunger.
The last couple of years have been a difficult wakeup call for many. With an unstable economy, issues such as hunger and people’s inability to afford food have become more widespread and pressing than in recent decades.
In our own region it’s a signficant and growing concern, with the Cleveland Foodbank’s distribution rate up by 59% in the last three years and a recent article in the New York Times demonstrating the changing face of hunger. With nearly 60 percent of Cleveland’s poor now residing in suburban areas, many municipalities are faced with an unprecedented challenge of how to feed so many of their residents.
Although the Cleveland Foodbank makes a signficant effort year-round to keep up with the demand throughout their six-county region, each Spring they partner with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley, and Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio to host one of the largest annual, community-wide food and funds drives in the nation.
The 22nd annual Harvest for Hunger recently kicked off on February 13th at Tower City. This food and funds drive will run through Spring with a significant focus during the month of March.
During last year’s Harvest for Hunger, businesses, supermarkets, schools and individuals contributed enough resources to provide over 16 million meals to the 21 Northeast Ohio counties served by the four foodbanks.
Because the need for emergency food in our community continues to rise, this year’s goal is to beat that total.
Although this year’s goal is huge, there are a number of ways we can achieve it:
The easiest is Check Out Hunger. When you go grocery shopping now through March 30 at Giant Eagle, Heinen’s, Dave’s Markets, Fishers Foods, Buehler’s or any other participating retailer, make a $1, $5 or $10 donation to Harvest for Hunger everytime you check out. It’s fast, simple and for every $1 donated, the Cleveland Foodbank can provide four nutritious meals.
You can also donate online or organize a food and funds drive at your school or workplace. For family, friends and coworkers who may not be nearby, the Cleveland Foodbank can help set up a virtual drive. Call 216.738.2046 or go to www.HarvestForHunger.org for more details.
Throughout Spring 2013, the Cleveland Foodbank is partnering with local organizations to host Harvest for Hunger events.
YP Pantry, the Foodbank’s young professionals group will host a happy hour at Noodlecat on March 21. Bring canned goods for a drink ticket. More info: eventbrite.com/event/5836562315
At select home games in March, the Cavaliers will be collecting canned goods for the Foodbank. The Lake Erie Captains will also host food drives April 4-7.
As part of Case Western Reserve University’s Greek Week, stop by the campus on April 13 to marvel at structures built out of cans – all food items go directly to Harvest for Hunger.
And on May 10, University Circle hosts the Wade Oval Walk Against Hunger. Hundreds gather for the 2 mile walk around Wade Oval, each donating $10 to Harvest for Hunger.
Check out this list of Harvest for Hunger community events for more.
Finally, you can enjoy an evening out while raising money for Harvest for Hunger by purchasing tickets to Market at the Foodbank. Taking place on Sunday, April 14, Market at the Foodbank is an evening of food and drink from 50 of Northeast Ohio’s finest restaurants and beverage purveyors.
This is the second year the benefit takes place at the Cleveland Foodbank. By hosting the event at the Foodbank, guests can enjoy the food, live entertainment, celebrity servers, and silent auction raffle while seeing firsthand the impact of their contributions.
Although I’ll have more info over the next couple of weeks about the event, go to cleveland.com/marketatfoodbank to see some of the restaurants who are participating and to purchase your tickets.
As this year’s Harvest for Hunger mission reminds us: Hunger is closer than you think. But so is the solution. How are you going to help?