Change Hunger of Portage County and Kent State University are partnering in a major food drive to help fill the shelves of 11 community food pantries and hot meal programs.
The drive will run from Monday to Oct. 25 and end with a collection on Oct. 26, "Make a Difference Day," at KSU's Dix Stadium.
Anne Marie Mann-Noble, director of emergency outreach services for Family & Community Services Inc. and Change Hunger chairperson, said volunteers and are needed for the drive. Change hunger is asking businesses and organizations to hold food drives of their own and then bring the collected goods to the stadium between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Items also can be taken to the Change Hunger truck at the KSU Student Center Plaza, 1075 Risman Drive, between 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays between Oct. 14 and 25.
Change Hunger has sponsored food drives for the past 15 years, Mann-Noble said. The greatest amount ever brought in was about 15,000 pounds. Last year's total was about 4,300 pounds of nonperishable foods, Mann-Noble said. Donations by check or gift cards to area grocery stores also are welcome. As little as $2.25 provides three meals for someone in need through Change Hunger. Checks may be forwarded to Mann-Noble at Family & Community Services, Inc., 705 Oakwood St., Ravenna OH 44266.
Ann Gosky of KSU's Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement, said university departments are being urged to create sculptures of canned goods which will be donated to Change Hunger. It's a revival of a contest from several years ago to spur participation in the drive, she said.
"The libraries won last time we did this. They are very imaginative," she said.
The need for food to stock the pantries is still high, Mann-Noble said. One in four children in Portage County lives at or below the poverty line. And one-third of households receiving food pantry assistance includes a working adult but with wages that can't cover all their economic needs.
More than 17,000 county residents rely on federal food stamps to supplement their daily food needs. And those benefits are due to be cut starting in November when a temporary increase is scheduled to expire.
Mann-Noble said food stamp enrollment by local households increased by 81 percent between 2007 and 2011, far above the 58 percent average increase in neighboring counties.
Businesses, agencies, schools and others who wish to participate in the food drive should contact Mann-Noble at firstname.lastname@example.org or Gosky at email@example.com with questions.
Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Canned protein such as tuna, sardines, stew, soups
Peanut butter and jelly
Canned fruits and vegetables
Staples such as beans, rice and pasta
Breakfast foods -- cereals, granola bars, etc.
Personal care items including lotions, deodorant and toothpaste
Gift cards to area grocery stores
Donations by check: made payable to Change Hunger.
Students at Kent State University's Campus Kitchens Project are urging Portage residents to help fill the shelves of community cupboards through Change Hunger's food drive from Oct. 14 through 25. From left in front are: Michelle Whitacre, Jackie Telmanik, Madison Morsefield, Taaru Joiner and Carolyn Piombo. Standing, from left, are: Change Hunger's Anne Marie Mann-Noble, Alexandra James, Fred Herberling, Chef Ed Hoegler and Josh Lenardos.