Shared Harvest opens Hunger Awareness Center to support mission of feeding people

FAIRFIELD — Shared Harvest Foodbank is opening a Hunger Awareness Center to serve more people facing food insecurity.

The new center is 14,000 square feet and allowed the foodbank more space for volunteers to sort, pack and distribute food, said Terry Perdue, executive director of Shared Harvest Foodbank. A grand opening and open house is set for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday with a ribbon cutting ceremony will be at noon.

The event is open to the public and free to attend. Those interested in attending should register through a link on the Shared Harvest website at The event will include activities, entertainment and light refreshments.

The Hunger Awareness Center sits behind the original Shared Harvest Foodbank Distribution Center on the same property at 5901 Dixie Highway. The open house is a time for people to tour it.

“Seeing firsthand the need and the volume of food that would otherwise be wasted, which we are rescuing, is very impactful for people,” Perdue said.

The $3 million facility is climate-controlled so volunteers can work in a comfortable space. It includes an educational gathering room as well as a meeting room. The space can also be transformed to host larger conferences and meetings.

“With this facility, we are hoping to accomplish our mission by rescuing food and distributing it to people who need it, and involving the community in that,” Perdue said.

“Basically, what we are offering are interactive, experiential opportunities to be immersed in the understanding of food insecurities. So, as you are going through our building, there will be displays providing educational opportunities for people to understand the sources of food, where does it come from, and the people in the community, the numbers, and where they are coming from, and things like that,” Perdue said.

Founded by Tina Osso, Shared Harvest Foodbank has been feeding Southwest Ohio since 1983, and the organization is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

“We are a foodbank, which means that we have a five-county service territory with over a hundred different food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters that we supply food to. We serve over 30,000 families a month through our network by providing food for families who are food insecure,” Perdue said.

Shared Harvest’s partners in Butler County include Serve City in Hamilton, The Village Food Pantry in New Miami, Faith Community United Methodist Church in West Chester, and TOPSS (Talawanda Oxford Pantry & Social Services) in Oxford, to name a few. There are 40 partners in Butler County.

Shared Harvest Foodbank serves a five-county area, including Butler, Warren, Preble, Darke and Miami Counties.

“Overall, within our network, we have experienced a 48 percent increase of people who are turning to our network for food assistance, and many are coming for the first time,” he said.

One of the things Shared Harvest Foodbank does as part of its mission is to educate the public about the impact of poverty and dispel myths.

One common myth, Purdue said, “is that people take advantage of the system, or they access services that they don’t need. I can tell you, on average, a family comes to a food pantry within our network about twice within a 12-month period. They are only accessing it when they actually need it, so we try to stand in that gap until they are able to overcome whatever caused them to be in the situation that they are in.”

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