Help Needed for United Way of Lake County's 29th Annual Feed Lake County & COVID-19 Relief/Recovery Fundraiser

You are here

Help Needed for United Way of Lake County’s 29th Annual Feed Lake County & COVID-19 Relief/Recovery Fundraiser

According to Feeding America, 42% more Lake County residents and 58% more children are living with food insecurity than prior to the pandemic.

March 15, 2021 – Mentor, OH – United Way of Lake County (UWLC) kicked off their 29th annual Feed Lake County & COVID-19 Relief/Recovery Fundraiser this March. The fundraiser will run through May and UWLC is reaching out to organizations and residents for help.

Just in Time Staffing is matching donations up to $10,000 through their newly formed establishment, The Donato Foundation.

“The need is greater than ever right now and we’re grateful The Donato Foundation has partnered with us as our Community Impact Hero. Thanks to their generosity, the impact of those who give right now will be doubled,” said UWLC President and CEO Jennifer McCarty.

According to Stephen Donato, Marketing Director of The Donato Foundation, “We are thrilled to partner with United Way of Lake County to match donations. Just In Time Staffing grew from humble beginnings in Perry, Ohio, to become the second largest employer in Lake County.  We based the Donato Foundation on the same principal of helping others that made Just In Time Staffing so successful. Since we are a new Foundation, we wanted to make sure our first official act of giving was effective. United Way of Lake County’s work makes such a huge impact and helps so many Lake County residents that partnering with them was a no brainer.”

COVID-19 has significantly increased the number of residents and children living with food insecurity in Lake County. According to Feeding America:

  • 36,400 Lake County residents are estimated to be living with food insecurity. This is 15.8% of the population, or nearly 1 in 7 residents. This is a 42% increase in the number of residents suffering pre-COVID when 25,700 – or, 1 in 9 - were estimated to be living with food insecurity.
  • 11,790 Lake County children are estimated to be living with food insecurity. This is 25% of children, a significant 1 in 4. This is a 58% increase in the number of children suffering pre-COVID when 7,450 – or 1 in 6.5 - were estimated to be living with food insecurity.

Inquiries for food rank #1 among all inquiries for health and human service help that Lifeline receives. Last year, they received over 9,000 inquiries for food assistance.

Due to the level of need in Lake County, UWLC is asking for increased support from residents and organizations and are encouraging monetary gifts as the best way to give back.  Information on this and additional ways to give back include:

  • Make a monetary donation. This can be done online at or by mailing a check payable to United Way of Lake County to 9285 Progress Parkway, Mentor, OH, 44060. Attention: FLC.
  • Organize a food drive or monetary fundraiser at your organization and donate all funds raised and food collected to United Way of Lake County. To sign up to participate in a food or fundraising drive, contact Jodi Matsko Preseren at 440.639.1236 or via email at
  • Donate non-perishable food. Contact Jodi Matsko Preseren at 440.639.1236 or via email at to drop off donations or to make pick-up arrangements. Most needed items include pasta sauce, pasta, syrup, pancake mix, Bisquick, canned fruit, peanut butter and jelly, canned black beans, canned pinto beans, canned peas and mixed vegetables, canned/boxed soup, stews and meals, macaroni and cheese, canned meats like Spam, chicken, ham and tuna, rice, cereal, breakfast bars, juice, baby food, and popcorn. Toilet paper and personal hygiene items are also needed.

The food collected during the Feed Lake County campaign will be distributed to approximately 40 Lake County food pantries in June. All money donated will be used to make food purchases throughout the year to help restock food bank shelves.

According to Tami Lewis, UWLC Marketing and Communications Director, “Thanks to the generosity of our community, last year we were able to provide Lake County food pantries with enough food for nearly 270,000 meals. And thanks to donors and our partner agencies we were able to help provide an additional 41,024 meals to seniors via drive by pick-up and deliveries, 2,500 bags of home-delivered groceries to homebound seniors unable to get out due to COVID-19, and over 500 cans of formula for babies of low-income households.”

“The pandemic has placed an unimaginable challenge to our community and created overwhelming needs unlike anything we have seen in our past. As a result, this year’s fundraiser has been expanded to include COVID-19 relief/recovery efforts. Funds raised will allow us to help meet the additional basic needs of those struggling within our community,” said McCarty.

Information on how funds from UWLC’s Lake County Relief Fund were used to meet Lake County’s critical needs can be found on their website at

United Way released the results of an in-depth study in 2017 that was implemented in eighteen states, including Ohio, to uncover the true number of households struggling, over and above those who live in poverty. The study refers to this population as ALICE, which is a United Way acronym that stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE are households that earn more than the federal poverty level but less than the basic cost of living and are often referred to as the working poor. The results of the study shed light on the actual number of Lake County households who do not earn enough to afford a bare bones household budget.

The study was recently updated based on 2018 data and revealed that a significant 27% of households in Lake County fall within the ALICE threshold. When combined with the 8.6% of households living in poverty, a total of 32.6% of Lake County households are struggling to survive.

According to McCarty, “The ALICE study was conducted prior to the pandemic so we can only imagine what the numbers would reveal if conducted today, especially based on the estimated increase in hunger that’s been exposed by Feeding America. On behalf of all those suffering, I am imploring anyone with the means to do so to help impact the lives of their friends and neighbors in need by donating now at”