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Butler County foodbank sees client increase, credits new strategy in service

Shared Harvest Food Bank is working to sell a little more than 4 acres of land in front of its Dixie Highway building in Fairfield. The food bank, which will retain nearly 6 acres of land, will use proceeds to raise capital for the food bank, including improving their building and “help us get more funding to feed more people,” said Shared Harvest Executive Director Terry Perdue. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Shared Harvest Food Bank is working to sell a little more than 4 acres of land in front of its Dixie Highway building in Fairfield. The food bank, which will retain nearly 6 acres of land, will use proceeds to raise capital for the food bank, including improving their building and “help us get more funding to feed more people,” said Shared Harvest Executive Director Terry Perdue. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

While a Butler County-based foodbank has seen an increase in the total number of people served this year compared to the same time last year, officials said the rise is partly due to a variety of strategies deployed to reach more people in poverty.

Shared Harvest Foodbank, which serves food pantries in five southwest counties, has seen a 12-percent hike in its clients so far in 2019, according to Executive Director Terry Perdue. He said the agency is reaching people who don’t normally turn to the network of food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.

RELATED: Shared Harvest to sell part of its property for Panera Bread and a ‘future development’

Founded in 1983, Shared Harvest Foodbank collects, warehouses, transports and distributes contributions of wholesome surplus food and other grocery style products to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and similar nonprofits in Butler, Warren, Preble, Darke and Miami counties which provide either hot meals or bags of groceries to people in need.

In March, Perdue said, Shared Harvest began distributing food through a mobile pantry that enables it to reach people in communities who weren’t necessarily receiving help before. Additionally, it’s partnering with non-traditional organizations such as healthcare facilities and schools to provide food to their patient and student populations.

“We know that through our network, we only serve a fragment of the people who are food insecure and eligible for our services,” Perdue said.

During the holiday season, local families experience “financial pressures” through higher heating costs, children being out of school that creates increased childcare and food costs and the desire to purchase Christmas gifts for their children that they can’t necessarily afford.

Thankfully, this also is the time of year when people are in the “giving mood,” he said.

Once again, The Journal-News is working with the Foodbank through its Community Food Relief. Last year, nearly $11,000 was raised to help Shared Harvest Foodbank feed hungry families and 88,000 meals were provided.

Since 2004, more than $256,000 has been donated to the food relief, according to Shared Harvest Foodbank financial records.

All contributions are distributed through a network of community and faith-based food pantries, shelters and community kitchens.

For every $1 given, eight meals are provided for people living in the Shared Harvest Foodbank coverage area.

Community Food Relief History

Year, Total Donation

2004, $14,634

2005, $11,102

2006, $18,763

2007, $16,276

2008,$21,936

2009, $28,242

2010, $23,515

2011, $20,238

2012, $18,855

2013, $16,654

2014, $15,131

2015, $13,580

2016, $12,729

2017, $14,235

2018, $10,922

SOURCE: Shared Harvest Foodbank

HOW TO DONATE:

• Go to www.journal-news.com/foodrelief to give online

• Send a check to Community Food Relief, 5901 Dixie Drive, Fairfield, OH 45014

• Look for the envelopes inserted in the Journal-News on Dec. 15, and Dec. 22.