Mentor – A total of 48 local food banks benefited fromUnited Way of Lake County’s (UWLC) distribution of 84,785 pounds of food today. The food was donated by the community during their 27th Annual Feed Lake County fundraiser and food drive, which ran from March 1, 2019 to April 30, 2019.
Volunteers from Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers’ Lake House were on hand to help load food into cars and trucks from UWLC’s temporary warehouse located in the now closed Dale Rice Elementary School in Mentor on Lakeshore Boulevard.
The temporary warehouse was previously located outside the Great Lakes Mall next to Office Max but due to new construction the site became unavailable. “We were in a bind without that space and thankfully Mentor Public Schools Superintendent Bill Porter stepped up and kindly donated use of the former Dale Rice Elementary School,” said Jennifer McCarty, President and CEO of UWLC.
UWLC runs the program every spring and Lake County companies, organizations, schools and agencies participate by running food drives to raise food and funds to help feed the community’s hungry. The food from this year’s drive was distributed today and money raised will be used later in the year to help re-stock Lake County’s food pantries.
According to McCarty, “Hunger in Lake County is one of the challenges we are most passionate about. Nearly one in nine residents live with food insecurity in our community and the success of this year’s food drive is evidence of the compassion our residents feel for those suffering. I’m grateful to everyone who donated and to the many volunteers who helped us pick up, sort and distribute the food. It really does take a village.”
Highlights from the fundraiser, along with today’s food distribution include:
- A total of 84,785 pounds of food was distributed to 48 local food pantries today to help them stock their shelves. This is a 12% increase over the number of pounds collected and distributed last year. This is enough food to provide 70,654 meals to residents in need. The total number of pounds of food collected this year is more than three times greater than the total number of pounds UWLC collected just three years ago in 2016, prior to when efforts were ramped up due to need.
- Funds totaling $43,181 were also raised by businesses, organizations, schools and residents who participated in this year’s Feed Lake County fundraiser by donating monetary gifts. These funds are enough to provide an additional 175,524 meals and will be used by UWLC to to help re-stock the community’s food pantries.
- UWLC’s Emerging Leaders raised over $11,000 of the total funds from the over 30 local restaurants who participated in the April 16, 2019 Dine-to-Donate fundraiser they coordinated.
- The combined total of food and funds raised year to-date is enough to provide 246,178 meals to our hungry. This is a 7% increase over last year and the number will continue to grow as donations come in through the end of the year.
According to Tami Lewis, UWLC Director of Marketing and Communications, “More than 25,000 residents in Lake County live with food insecurity. That’s nearly 1 in 9 residents who are suffering from hunger. Inquiries for food assistance rank number one among all inquiries received by Lifeline's 2-1-1 help referral hotline, and last year a total of 8,520 inquiries for food assistance were received.”
Jodi Matsko, UWLC Resource Development Manager and coordinator of UWLC’s Feed Lake County program expressed her gratitude to everyone involved. “Our community came together in a big way to help one another,” she said. “I’m especially grateful to Paisley Farms in Willoughby who donated the greatest amount of food this year weighing in at 33,571 pounds. Another Willoughby organization who came through for us again this year is Moving Ahead Services. They donate all of the boxes for our food drive along with use of their trucks and movers to help us pick up and transport everything collected throughout the community. Not only this, but they donate the food they collect from their ‘Move for Hunger’ program as well.”
Additional community highlights include:
- Mentor Public Schools has been supporting UWLC’s fight against hunger from the inception of their food drive 27 years ago and collected and donated enough food for 15,510 meals this year.
- Over 1,000 volunteer hours went into collecting and sorting food in preparation for today’s distribution. Volunteer students from Mentor CARES, an Autism Resource and Education School, along with clients of the Lake County Board of DD/Deepwood were instrumental in sorting a large majority of the food donated along with volunteers from throughout the community.
- Olon Ricerca Bioscience of Concord, Meister Media Worldwide of Willoughby and Buyers Products Company of Mentor all donated enough food for over 10,000 meals. Marous Brothers Construction of Willoughby, Burgess & Niple of Painesville and Aexel Corporation of Mentor also donated enough food for nearly 9,000 meals.
Food distributed included the most requested items. Pantries received boxed and canned meals including mac and cheese and tuna helper; canned meats like tuna, chicken, spam and ham; pasta and pasta sauce; peanut butter and jelly; rice; cereal; canned fruit and vegetables; and canned soup and stew.
United Way will continue to accept food and monetary donations throughout the year to help feed Lake County. If you would like to help by donating, contact Jodi Matsko at 440.639.1236 or via email at jmatsko.com.
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