‘Food fight’ to help feed West Chester, Liberty communities

Members of the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance’s NEXT Young Professional’s group inside Reach Out Lakota’s pantry during the inaugural Corporate Food Fight in 2016. CONTRIBUTED

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Members of the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance’s NEXT Young Professional’s group inside Reach Out Lakota’s pantry during the inaugural Corporate Food Fight in 2016. CONTRIBUTED

Reach Out Lakota is set to launch its second annual Corporate Food Fight, which will see businesses and civic organization in West Chester and Liberty townships compete against one another.

The organization that can collect the most food or raise the most money wins.

In its inaugural year, the event had 23 participating businesses — with as few as three employees and as many as 900 — raising more than 8,000 pounds of food and $2,000, according to J. Peyton Gravely, Reach Out Lakota’s director of development and marketing.

This year’s event kicks off June 3 and concludes with a wrap-up party June 30. Registration deadline is May 30.

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Gravely said coordinator Tim Harmon told him the inaugural food fight’s haul was the most food Reach Out Lakota had during summer months in the last 20-plus years.

“Based on our strong partnership with the Lakota School District, we see a drastic drop in donations during summer break and an equally large up-tick in requests with students being home practically 24/7,” Gravely said. “In a sense, you could say that our pantry was overflowing, as we were able to store a large amount of the food donations raised during the event to fully stock our pantry through summer break.”

Many of the issues Reach Out Lakota experiences, from a community perspective, revolve around local residents having to make the tough choice between food, medication and other essential expenses, he said.

Also, many families will move to West Chester Twp. for their children’s education and not have gainful employment, Gravely said.

“Even with only 6-hour distribution weeks, we average 125 households per month or 550 individuals,” he said. “Our current clientele base consists of approximately 2,500 individuals living in the West Chester, Liberty Township and Lakota communities. We average between 12,500 and 17,500 pounds of food … and nearly 5,000 pounds of supplement distributed on a monthly basis.”

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The event has given as much to the participating businesses as it has to Reach Out’s efforts and those in need throughout West Chester and Liberty Township, Gravely said.

“We heard countless times last year from companies that participated that they truly enjoyed the team-building aspect of the competition,” he said. “Many of the same companies will participate in other events and/or food, clothing and supplement drives throughout the year, as well; however, this event truly gives back to all parties involved in many ways.”

Reach Out Lakota still has an opening for the Wrap-up Party Event presenting sponsor and is selling sponsorships that allow businesses or organization to have a logo placed on T-shirts to be distributed during the event.

For more information, call 513-779-7515 or visit www.facebook.com/ROLakota.

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