It is always a positive thing or should be when the Ohio Governor is interested in the area you live in, especially in an area as distressed as the southern Ohio local community.
Two representatives from Governor Mike DeWine’s office visited Minford Local Schools to see and learn about the summer food program in the area. This program was first started with the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund food program around seven years ago.
The ladies visiting were Michele Reynolds, Director of Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and Tia Ramey, the Deputy Director of the program. Reynolds said she just began this job, when Governor DeWine took office and she is very excited to work and see these programs. “We visited our first Mid Ohio Food Bank and this was our first visit to the rural program,” Reynolds said. Reynolds said she grew up with her family, who were in business and highly involved in the group housing of the less advantaged. She is also a minister saying that when she went to college, it was in her heart to do something with those who were less fortunate.
Mark Hunter, of Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund, talked with these two ladies about this area and the things that so many of these children have to deal with and what level of poverty is here. They continued to talk about these food programs and what a great thing it is that they are even able to reach out to these families in need and being able to keep the children from going hungry in the summer months.
One of the things that Carol Whitmer, Director of the Ohio Food Program said of today’s food distribution was the fact that because the Ohio Legislature has not approved a budget yet, they don’t have produce, which is what the kids just love. “Fortunately, we do have the food boxes. We’ve been doing this rural program for seven years,” Whitmer said.
Hunter said the first year, Shawnee State University sent students to unload the trucks and help distribute the food. “In this rural meal delivery program, we provide the boxes of 11 meals, which would stand in the place of the five meals a week if they were being served like in the city, and then the other six would be what the children would receive in the Steven A. Hunter Backpack program during the school year,” Whitmer said. “To get these boxes and other summer food, the parents have to identify that they are in the 200th percent of poverty, and then they just have to fill out the paperwork. The boxes contain 11 meals per family member and they can get these once a week for ten weeks in the summer. I worked for the association (FoodBanks) for 11 years. I am a food purchasing agent and my main job is to purchase produce shelf stable, and protein for the food bank in Ohio. The food is then stored in the food banks.”
“We have a lot of kids that we know are food insecure, so we know that during the summer is when they are the most vulnerable,” said Minford Local Schools Superintendent Jeremy Litteral. “We try to have anything they can have and these boxes have their snack that they can have and then there are healthy options and the produce, is really good for the family. It helps us to have any outreach we can for the kids in the summer. Dennis Evans, the Middle School Principal pulls the list of kids that are elibible for the program and he mails them to see if they are interested in the program, and if so, they fill out an application and mail it back to us. Throughout the year with word of mouth, we will get others who come for the food also.”
Litteral said the majority of the people who are eligible, do turn out for the summer program. “KC (Chatfield) brings out a group from the Star workshop to help with carrying the boxes out for the people,” Litteral said. “We start distribution day at 9:00 a.m. for the volunteers to get everything ready, and then we start distributing from 10 a.m. to Noon.”
Mark and Virgie Hunter with their Steven A Hunter Hope Fund Program, have done so much for this area and beyond, to help feed those children who might otherwise go hungry, and to get the program attention from the Governor’s office is such a good thing for this area and the needs here.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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