Judy Yackin, Director of the Willoughby Food Bank at the United Methodist Church in downtown Willoughby
February 28, 2018 – Mentor, OH – United Way of Lake County (UWLC) will kick off its 26th annual spring Feed Lake County food drive on Thursday, March 1, 2018. The food drive and fundraiser will run through April 30, 2018. UWLC is reaching out to organizations and residents for help setting up and running food drives and fundraisers for this cause.
Nearly 21,000 Lake County residents live in poverty and 28,410 residents live with food insecurity. That’s 1 in 8 residents who suffer from hunger, including nearly 20% of children. Lifeline’s 2-1-1 information referral helpline answered 9,341 incoming inquiries for food assistance in 2017. Requests for food ranks number one among all inquiries they receive for help.
ALICE®, a United Way acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, are households that earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living (The ALICE® Threshold). Combined, the number of poverty and ALICE® households equals the total population struggling to afford basic needs, including food. In Lake County, 8% of the 96,655 households here live in poverty, while 23% fall into the ALICE® category. Combined, the number of poverty and ALICE households struggling to afford basic needs in Lake County is 29,963, nearly one-third of all households.
According to Tami Lewis, UWLC Director of Marketing and Communications, “ALICE represents the men and women who get up each day to go to work, but who aren’t sure if they’ll be able to put dinner on the table each night. These are the people living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to afford life’s basic necessities.”
“Due to the number of people struggling, we’ve added an incentive to help encourage monetary donations this year. For every $5 donated, those who give will receive one contest entry for a chance to win an enormous 65” LG Smart TV,” said Jean Sency, UWLC Vice President of Resource Development. “Every $5 donated is enough to provide 20 meals for our community’s hungry. Donors who contribute $10 will receive 2 contest entries while providing enough food for 40 meals. Those who contribute $25 will receive 5 contest entries while providing enough food for 100 meals and so on.”
Judy Yackin, Director of the Willoughby Food Bank in downtown Willoughby, notes, “Many of those we serve work minimum wage jobs and live from one paycheck to the next. If their car breaks down or they have any sort of unforeseen expense, they don’t have a savings to draw upon and the need for food becomes very real.”
UWLC’s contest runs from now through April 30, 2018 and the winner of the tv will be selected on or about May 4, 2018.
The food and funds collected from the Feed Lake County program allow United Way of Lake County to help support approximately 50 local food pantries who distribute to Lake County residents in need. The most requested food items include boxed or canned meals like mac and cheese and tuna helper; canned meats like tuna and chicken; pasta and pasta sauce; peanut butter and jelly; cereal; canned fruit and vegetables; and canned soup and stew. Other needed items include baby food and formula and even paper and personal hygiene products such as paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and deodorant.
As of this date, 170 companies and organizations have signed up to run food drives to help Feed Lake County with the hope this number will continue to increase.
The amount of food collected during UWLC’s 2017 food drive was more than double the amount collected the previous year. According to Lewis, “Last year’s Feed Lake County food drive raised 68,250 pounds of food and $34,436 in monetary donations. In total, this was enough to provide 194,619 meals to our community’s residents in need.”
“Based on the revealing number of households that live at or below the ALICE threshold, we hope to continue to increase the amount of both food and funds we collect this year,” said UWLC President & CEO Jennifer McCarty. “I would like to make a heartfelt plea to every resident within our community to join us in our fight against hunger by contributing. A small $5 donation goes a long way and residents can easily give online at www.uwlc.org/feed.”
UWLC is looking for support and asking residents and organizations to consider helping in one of the following ways:
• Organize a food drive at your company, organization, church or neighborhood and donate the food items and money collected to United Way of Lake County. For more information, contact Jean Sency at 440-639-1286 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Make a monetary donation. This can be done online at www.uwlc.org/feed or by mailing a check payable to United Way of Lake County to 9285 Progress Parkway, Mentor, OH, 44094. Food and monetary donations can also be dropped off at this address or you may contact them at 440-639-1236 or via email at email@example.com to arrange for UWLC to pick up your donation.
• Eat breakfast, lunch or dinner at one of over 40 participating restaurants on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 during UWLC’s Dine to Donate community-wide restaurant fundraiser. A list of all participating restaurants who will donate a portion of their day’s sales to Feed Lake County will be posted in the next few weeks at www.uwlc.org.
All food items collected during Feed Lake County will be distributed to more than 50 food pantries at the beginning of May. The money collected during Feed Lake County will be used to make food purchases throughout 2018 to help restock the food pantries later in the year.