Hunger spreads across Tri-State; food drives aim to help

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Honking horns, people dressed in turkey outfits and speakers blaring top 40 music were the way hundreds of Tri-State families came together to help get food to those who need it this holiday season.

Crossroads church, in Mason and in Oakley, had dozens of volunteers directing traffic, unloading cars and packing up boxes that would eventually fill up seven semis. Organizers say that every year, the drive gets bigger. That's good, because hunger is up among families in the Tri-State and beyond.

Anna Hogan with the Freestore Foodbank says this year, they will give away 23,000 boxes of food for Thanksgiving.  But she says donations are still needed to get their network of agencies through the holidays.  She says if you think people near you aren't among those receiving help, you are probably wrong.

"People have the misconception that donations to us just go to serve the Over the Rhine community," said Hogan. "In reality, serving Over the Rhine is only about 5 percent of what we do...the rest of the over 16 million meals per year we distribute go out through 20 counties and hundreds of neighborhoods."

Data released in August from the Food Research and Action Center showed that in Ohio, among households with children in them, one in four reported they could not afford enough food at some point during the last year.

And food pantries, which were created to meet acute, temporary needs, are becoming a much more regular part of many struggling families' lives. reports that "for the majority of people seeking food assistance, pantries are now a part of households' long term strategies to supplement monthly shortfalls in food."

That same website details a specific problem in Ohio. From 2008-2010, the national average number of households that had food insecurity (lack of reliable access to food) was 14.6%.  But in Ohio, the number was even higher, 16.4 percent.  More recent numbers show it may have climbed as high as 17.1 percent.

Which is why Brad Lovell of West Chester came out for the first time and volunteered his time Sunday at the Crossroads food drive.

"They (those who donated) just feel it in their heart, and they just want to share it with the city of Cincinnati. That's what it's about," said Lovell.

Here are some places in the Tri-State that help the area's hungry:

Freestore Foodbank - drive-thru food donation drop-off at 112 E. Liberty, Cincinnati. Spokeswoman Anna Hogan tells us, "You pull in, and volunteers unload your car, give you a receipt, and send you on your way."  Donations accepted online also.

Shared Harvest - serves Butler, Warren, Preble, Darke, and Miami Counties in Ohio.

Feeding America - information, resources, find a food bank near you, and ways you can help

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