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Second Harvest Food Bank and 21 WFMJ kick off Project: Feed Our Valley

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Project: Feed Our Valley, a cooperative effort between the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley and 21 WFMJ, will officially kick off its annual food collection drive this Saturday.

Food and monetary donations from the local community helps provide emergency food assistance for hundreds of people including those who lined up at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Warren.

At least 400 families received free, fresh produce supplied by the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Mobile food pantries working with the food bank help feed the growing need in the community.

When asked if he had any food in his refrigerator, Henry Hamrick of Warren said, "No. Nothing."

Henry's is just one of a number of heartbreaking stories from those who came to the mobile food pantry.

According to Second Harvest, there has been a 24% increase in the number of senior citizens who have turned to the food bank for help since last year, and there's been a 31% increase in the number of families being served.

Sixty-eight-year-old Charles William of Warren says, "$718, that's what I live on a month. It's not enough." But he says he's thankful to have the food bank, because his family couldn't make it without it.

Cheryl Vandercook, also from Warren, tells 21 News, "I come down here just to get the produce so that I can have food the rest of the month."

The faces of hunger in the Valley range from infants to the elderly, and the state of hunger in the Valley is more critical now than before.

Becky Miller, Resource Development Manager for the Second Harvest Food Bank, says, "We're serving over 14,000 people each week right now, and last year at this time it was averaging about 13,000. So we've seen about 1,000 people a week increase so far."

The food bank is counting on the generosity of the community and their donations to fill the void after 50% of their government subsidies were cut reducing their inventory of food dramatically.

You may also remember the Wal-Mart Facebook Challenge where Second Harvest was awarded nearly $800,000, money that was only allowed to be used for equipment. One of the things the food bank purchased with those funds was a new freezer.

Now the food bank is counting on donations from the community to fill that freezer. Donations that help 400 people receive emergency food assistance for just one day in Warren.

If you would like to donate to Project: Feed Our Valley, you can bring non-perishable items to the Super K-Mart on Route 46 in Niles between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. this Saturday.

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