MOUNT VERNON — The 36th annual Food for the Hungry Drive officially begins today throughout Knox County, and will culminate in a live video and radio broadcast on Saturday, Dec. 9, at a new location — the Knox County Memorial Building in Mount Vernon. The financial goal for this year’s drive is $200,000, and Food for the Hungry hopes to collect as much canned or boxed food as the community can donate. Last year, over 28 truckloads of physical food were collected.
Food for the Hungry was started in 1982 by the late Charlie Kilkenny of WMVO Radio, who wanted to help local families in need during the holiday season. With the help of station owner Stephen Zelkowitz the next year, Food for the Hungry’s vision and purpose expanded to collect enough food and funds during the drive to help people in need throughout the entire year. With the addition of several supporting community partners in 1995 and again in 2012, Food for the Hungry has not only grown, but continued Kilkenny’s vision.
“Our efforts each year to support The Salvation Army, Interchurch and other food assistance groups are critical to helping people in need get back on their feet,” said Joe Rinehart, president of the Food for the Hungry Board of Directors. “We are extremely thankful for the generosity of individuals, organizations, and businesses across Knox County over the years, and ask for their support again as we push back against food instability and economic uncertainty.”
As of September, Interchurch Social Services reported averaging 600 families or individuals each month around Knox County who receive some type of food assistance. The Mount Vernon Salvation Army has served 845 households since Jan. 1. The Mid-Ohio Food Bank continues to report that 33 percent of those food requests were for families with children ages 0-17.
The mission of Food for the Hungry is to help Interchurch Social Services, The Salvation Army and other food assistance organizations stock their shelves and give financial assistance to support Knox County’s citizens in need. The annual drive is made possible through the support of six legacy corporate partners (the Mount Vernon News, WMVO/WQIO, Spectrum Cable, WNZR Radio, Mount Vernon Nazarene University and WRP CPAs), eight event partners (Kenyon College, Psi Iota Xi, Kokosing River Productions, the Knox County Career Center, KnoxPages.com, Delta Kappa Gamma, First Knox National Bank and Central Ohio Technical College), and thousands of Knox County residents, businesses and organizations who volunteer their time and donate food and funds.
“Food For The Hungry truly brings out the best in our community, from the young, to the elderly,” said Drive Coordinator Lisa Mazzari. “It is such an honor to have the opportunity to meet and speak with so many people that want to help in some way. That help, makes it possible for those on the front lines to be able to meet the needs of our friends and neighbors every day of the year, not just in the holiday season.”
FFTH is 100 percent local and all donations are tax-deductible. “We are blessed to live in such a wonderful community,” said Mazzari. “It warms my heart to see the passion our youth have for this mission, it gives me hope for the future. They embrace the calling to serve our fellow man. Please join us in this effort…make a difference, no gift or talent is too small!”
Throughout the next six weeks, the Mount Vernon News, WNZR 90.9 FM, KnoxPages.com, Oldies 100.9 13WMVO and Super Q 93.7 WQIO will provide information and articles about the needs, announcements and notices about upcoming Food For The Hungry events to raise food and funds in our county. Information about the drive and the many community activities that support it can also be found on the event website, www.FoodForTheHungryCares.org, on the event Facebook page, www.facebook.com/foodforthehungryknoxcounty, and on Twitter www.twitter.com/ffthcares.
If you, your service organization or business would like to donate time, money or services, please call Drive Coordinator Lisa Mazzari at (740) 481-2444 or Lisam.firstname.lastname@example.org.