Second Harvest Food Bank distributed 9.2 million lbs. of food in - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Second Harvest Food Bank distributed 9.2 million lbs. of food in 2013

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - For the third consecutive year, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley distributed more than 9 million lbs. of food in 2013; 9,210,962 lbs. to be exact, or an increase of nearly 2 percent over the 9,042,229 lbs. distributed in 2012. The number of hungry people throughout Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties continued to increase last year as Second Harvest's 153 member agencies fed an average of more than 15,000 people each week.

"To meet the growing need for food assistance, Second Harvest Food Bank's staff and numerous volunteers work to make sure hungry seniors, families and children in our Valley have the food they need to live healthy and productive lives," said Second Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Mike Iberis. "We believe that no one should go hungry, and we are dedicated to building a community that makes food accessible to all people."

Second Harvest solicits, stores and distributes food to hunger-relief organizations in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties. The Food Bank is a storehouse for large quantities of donated food and USDA commodities that are distributed to 153 hunger-relief organizations located throughout the tri-county service area. These member agencies include church pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens, shelters for battered women, and after-school programs.

The Food Bank also educates the community about hunger in our tri-county service area and advocates for those who are poor.

"Through our own efforts and stories picked up by the local media, we ensure that people living in the Valley are aware of the immense need," Iberis said. "Our advocacy includes efforts at the state and federal levels to increase access to SNAP (food stamps), and we offer people assistance with applications for additional federal and state benefit programs through the Ohio Benefit Bank."

In 2013, Second Harvest continued expansion of key programs to help feed hungry people in the Mahoning Valley, including the BackPack Program and the Mobile Pantry Program. The Backpack Program provides a backpack full of food to students who might not otherwise eat during the weekend. The Mobile Pantry Program assists people in the outlying areas of the Mahoning Valley who might not have other resources to secure food.

"Quite simply, families are able to put meals on their tables and seniors are eating fresh fruits and vegetables — all of which would not be possible without the tremendous support we receive from individuals, organizations and companies in the Mahoning Valley," Iberis said. "These friends of the Food Bank give so much so that others get the help they so desperately need. They're doing something that makes a real difference."

In 1994, the Food Bank became a certified member of Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization. As a member of Feeding America, it is the designated recipient of national food donors and retailers, including Target, Bottom Dollar and Walmart. Additionally, the Food Bank works to procure food donations from local companies like Giant Eagle and Sparkle Markets, as well as through food drives and campaigns like Harvest for Hunger.

"Unfortunately, hunger levels in the Mahoning Valley continue to worsen," Iberis said. "The percentage of hungry people in the Mahoning Valley is significantly higher than state and national levels. We're banking on the continued support of the community to continue to fight the battle against hunger."

In 2013, Second Harvest Food Bank was awarded the AIB Food Safety Certification for the handling, storage and distribution of dry goods, canned goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and frozen meats. For more information on the Food Bank, please visit www.mahoningvalleysecondharvest.org or call 330-792-5522.

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