United Way of Lake County Puts $87,000 in Food into the Community June 23, 2022

United Way of Lake County Puts $87,000 in Food into the Community June 23, 2022 to Help Feed Growing Need

June 23, 2022 – Mentor, OH – United Way of Lake County (UWLC) distributed a total of $87,000 in food to over 30 Lake County food pantries. Some of the distributions took place in May with the bulk being distributed June 23, 2022.
Clients and staff from the Lake County Board of DD/Deepwood were on-hand to volunteer their strength to help load the food into pantry vehicles.

UWLC convenes with the Lake County food pantries several times a year to determine the food items that are most needed so the organization can fill this gap. Items distributed today included those most requested. This consisted of Apple Juice, Fruit Cocktail, Raisin Bran, Toasted Oats, Corn Flakes, Instant Oatmeal, Pancake Mix, Syrup, Peanut Butter, Jelly, Vegetable Beef Soup, Mac & Cheese, Beef Ravioli, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Tuna, Chunk White Chicken, Boxed Mashed Potatoes, and Bottled Water.
Food was donated during the organization’s 30th Annual Food Drive and Fundraiser which takes place every spring.

Two of the largest donors of food included the Mentor School system whose students and administration collected and donated food valued at over $23,000. Marous Brothers Construction collected and donated food valued at over $7,000.
In addition to the food UWLC collected, they raised over $60,000 in cash from donors. This included $25,000 that was donated by Buyer’s Products Company in Mentor, who matched all donations up to this amount to encourage gifts. These funds will be used to help restock food pantry shelves later in the year.

According to UWLC Director of Marketing and Communications Tami Lewis, “We are grateful for the generosity of our donors and volunteers who made today happen. The collective impact we’ve been able to make will help ensure families in need have food on the table and our community’s children do not go to bed hungry.”

Pastor Larry Bogenrief of the Willow Praise Church in Willowick praised UWLC for helping fulfill his pantry’s needs, sharing that his food bank is experiencing a growing sense of urgency, especially among seniors who are heavily squeezed living on fixed incomes while battling rising costs.

Bogenrief’s clients have increased from less than 100 regulars in December to 185 this month and he expects this rapid growth to continue. “Over the last 15 years I’ve been running our food bank, I’ve never seen anything like the uptick in need that’s currently occurring,” said Bogenrief.

A total of 27,130 Lake County residents are estimated to be living with food insecurity. This is 11.8% of the population, which equates to 1 in 8.5 residents. These numbers are 9% higher than prior to COVID-19 in 2019.

Approximately 7,000 Lake County children are estimated to be living with food insecurity. This is 14.8% of children, a significant 1 in 6.7. These numbers are 11% higher than prior to COVID-19 in 2019.

Nearly one-third of Lake County residents struggle to afford basic needs. This includes the working poor who make up a stark 23% plus the 8% who live in poverty. It is believed that the pandemic has further increased these numbers.

“The rapid price hikes in food and the inflationary environment we find ourselves in has placed an even greater burden on the working poor and middle class who do not qualify for federal nutrition programs or assistance,” said Lewis.

According to Denise Dworning of the Vineyard Community Church in Wickliffe, her pantry has been seeing a steady increase in need. Dworning says it’s not even a case of “do I buy food or medicine” anymore, it’s “can we afford anything.”

Dworning believes it’s only going to continue to get worse, stating that the government is talking about cutting SNAP benefits and are already cutting back on COVID benefits which were of great help to those struggling.

“Although people seem to think it’s getting better, it’s not. It’s getting worse. We’re getting more and more feedback from people saying they are afraid of not being able to feed their children or take care of their three generational household of grandparents, kids, and grandchildren just trying to survive,” said Dworning.

UWLC has a help resource center on their website. Anyone struggling with hunger or in need of health and human services are encouraged to visit uwlc.org/help-resources. More comprehensive help can also be found by calling Lifeline’s 2-1-1 referral hotline anytime 24/7.

Those in a position to donate are asked to visit uwlc.org/give to make a gift. Checks payable to United Way of Lake County can also be mailed to them at 9285 Progress Parkway, Mentor, OH 44060. Attention: FLC.