MIAMI COUNTY — Residents are asked to donate food and nonperishable items this month to help their neighbors in need.
Feed Ohio began in 2012 following completion of the Hunger in America Study in 2010. The study found more than one in six Ohioans are food insecure. For children, the risk of hunger is even higher. 25.7 percent of Ohio children or 679,900 are at risk of hunger, and 1 in 4 are food insecure.
Last year, Ohioans made over 9 million visits to local food pantries and many households visited more than once for help with the basic necessity of food. Nearly 15 percent of visits were for seniors, and over 34 percent were for children.
The Ohio Association of Food Banks (OAFB) represents Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger, made up of Ohio’s 12 Feeding America food banks and their 3,300 local food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other hunger relief agencies that serve hungry people in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Planned in conjunction with the National Day of Service on Sept. 11, Feed Ohio is a month-long volunteer humanitarian effort to provide food assistance to individuals and families in Ohio that need help. The organization is now in its third year of collected donated items and sending them directly to local food banks.
Yuji Sato is the coordinator for Miami County’s Feed Ohio Drive and has organized the drive for all three years. Last year donors gave 1,782 pounds of food and nonperishables.
“Governor Kasich wanted to involve all Ohioans to participate, to give their donations to local pantries,” he said. “Local people can help those who are needy to support them rather than government doing it. There is quite a large number of people in Ohio who suffer from lack of nutritious food.”
Sato’s own experience with food insecurity led him to get involved with Feed Ohio. He lost his former job about seven or eight years ago, right after the recession. He said he was lucky to not have to ask anyone for help and to be able to support himself during his two years of unemployment.
Since then he has started his own business, but said he remembered the worry that came with not knowing whether he would find work again or if he would be able to support his family.
“I know how people feel if they’ve lost a job and I know how people feel if they’ve got no food to eat,” he said. “That’s my motivation: to help people who have an unfortunate issue happen to them such as a lost job or no money.”
His hope is that Feed Ohio can double how much food they are able to collect, ultimately bringing in close to 4,000 pounds in food and nonperishable items.
For more information about Feed Ohio, visit its website at feedohio.org.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.