Tag Archives: Cincinnati

Cincinnati Enquirer Oped: Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

It was President Franklin Roosevelt who said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”

On Saturday, we get a chance to help those less fortunate with the National Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. It’s the 26th year of the food drive sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers.

It’s simple. Just leave canned goods or non-perishable food by your mailbox on that Saturday morning. Spaghetti noodles, canned soup or canned vegetables, rice, peanut butter and other boxed foods are good for donations. Your letter carrier will pick up the food when dropping off your mail. Your donations will then be distributed to local food banks.

See my full article in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Cincinnati Bengals host food drive for Monday Night Football

Monday’s night NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans has a very important mission: to fight hunger. The Annual Bengals Canned Food Drive will take place before the 8:30 pm game at Paul Brown Stadium.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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After school food can be part of nutrition bill

Last summer the Cincinnati Public Library continued its successful child feeding program. To fight child hunger, it’s important that feeding programs extend beyond the school.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Cincinnati Bengals to tackle local hunger crisis

In Hamilton County of Ohio, the home of the Cincinnati Bengals, over 18 percent of the population lives in hunger. The child hunger rate in the county exceeds 22 percent, according to a study by Feeding America.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Ohio grade school helps feed children in Niger

Yesterday I visited the 5th grade class at the John Foster Dulles Elementary School in Cincinnati. The kids there have been playing a ton of FreeRice this school year.

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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How libraries will fight hunger in America this summer

When summer comes needy children often lose access to the free or reduced price meals available during the school year. In Ohio, which has a child hunger rate of 25 percent, this is a huge problem.

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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The School Lunch That Saved Cincinnati

Cincinnati,  Ohio (author photo)Cincinnati, Ohio has a very special place in the celebration of National School Lunch week (October 14-18). For it was teacher Ella Walsh who, in the early 1900’s, started one of the nation’s earliest school feeding programs.

Walsh, who taught at Cincinnati’s Jackson School, saw children coming to class hungry. Times were tough. She knew they needed help. So Walsh and her assistants set up a lunchroom. The “penny lunch” program was started.

Children who could afford it would pay a penny and get a lunch. Most could not afford, but still would receive the meal. Soup, spaghetti, rice, beans and fruit made up an early menu of the “penny lunches.”

The “penny lunches” spread to more parts of the city and even other cities. Dr. John Withrow was quoted as saying “started, you cannot stop them.” These were meals children and their families could count on, no matter what the circumstances. And there were rough times they had to face.

During World War One, many breadwinners were overseas with the Army and malnutrition became a bigger crisis according to a Cincinnati Enquirer report. Having “penny lunches” was vital for families facing this strain. The Cincinnati Post reported in 1933 that these school meals saved the lives of children during the Great Depression.

Then there are the little unsung heroes of Cincinnati. During World War II, the Cincinnati Times Star told the story of 10 year-old Charles Graff Jr., who collected sales tax stamps. He gave the stamps to his school so they could be redeemed and pay for school lunches for children in need. Graff had to study at home because he had the disease hemophilia. But he kept collecting the stamps and encouraging others to contribute. His father worked at the Red Top Brewing Company and got co-workers to give their stamps. Graff grew the school’s lunch fund.

Little by little the nation was building a national school lunch program, culminating in the law signed by President Harry Truman in 1946. When West Virginia had a hunger crisis during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations the school lunch and milk programs were safety nets.

The idea is simple common sense. Children should be spared from hunger. The food allows children to concentrate on learning. That is how a community and a nation succeeds. This is a lesson we must remember today and take care of our national school feeding.

I think we should resist cuts to school meals in the federal budget. The recent proposal by the House of Representatives to cut foods stamps also eliminates school meals for 210,000 children. What politicians and other leaders need to be doing is strengthening our hunger relief programs, especially in bad economic times.

The economy is struggling and the government shutdowns and other problems are certainly not helping the average citizen. Hunger can escalate in the presence of lack of leadership and cooperation in Washington, D.C. Food safety nets for children are especially important during these times.

School meals mean a lot to children here and across the world. I recently spoke to a man from Kenya who received school meals from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). They changed his life. In fact, the meals allowed him to become a world record holder in the marathon. His name is Paul Tergat, one of the fastest runners ever. Without the meals at school he never could have reached his potential.

That is something to remember with National School Lunch Week. These meals matter and we should do what we can so every child can receive them. Every child deserves that chance to reach their potential.

originally published at The Huffington Post.

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What’s At Stake in Duck Regatta – The Tri-State’s Response To Hunger

The 18th annual Rubber Duck Regatta is this Sunday, September 2nd at 3pm. The ducks will be dropped from the Purple People Bridge into the Ohio River where they will begin a race along the Serpentine Wall. You can purchase a duck to compete in the race.

There is much at stake with this event, the largest single fundraiser for the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank.

The Freestore provides emergency food aid for the hungry in the Tri-State. They depend on donations both from the public and the government. Hunger is a huge crisis in the area. A Feeding America study showed that in Hamilton County over 18 percent of the population suffers from hunger, or food insecurity.

This summer’s drought is having an impact on the cost of food, placing a further strain on the hungry and charities. However, the worst may be yet to come. The Department of Agriculture says the impact of food prices in stores “typically takes several months to occur, and most of the impact of the drought is expected to be realized in 2013.”

If food prices rise more people will fall deeper into hunger, having even less ability to put food on the table. Others who may be struggling to get by will also need food assistance. The Freestore will need all the support it can get to help those in need.

In addition, Congress is planning to scale back food stamps, which at a time of rising food prices and high unemployment is a recipe for disaster.

Fundraisers for the Freestore take on a great urgency when you consider the potential hunger crisis that is fast gathering.

The Freestore says, “For just $25 – the price of six ducks – the Freestore Foodbank can feed a family of four for an entire week.” You can help out the Freestore and buy a duck at their web site until 2 pm eastern time Sunday, September 2nd at www.freestorefoodbank.org


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Freestore, Public Library Seek to Escalate Fight Against Hunger in Cincinnati

The Power Pack provides children food for weekends during the school year. (Freestore Foodbank photo)

The Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank and the Cincinnati Public Library each want to expand child feeding programs throughout the city. Their proposals follow a Feeding America study that showed over 25 percent of children in Ohio suffer from hunger or food insecurity. Within Hamilton County, Ohio the child hunger rate is just above 21 percent.

The Freestore wants to expand its school year Power Pack program for children. The Power Pack contains 9-12 non-perishable food items like cereal, fruit cups and pasta. It is provided to children so they can have food at their home over weekends when they cannot access the federal school lunch and breakfast program. It’s a way to ensure children do not suffer from hunger.

Kathy Greenberg of the Freestore says, “In the 2011-12 academic year, Power Packs were provided to the neediest 10% of our children in poverty in 90 schools. For the upcoming 2012-13 academic year, we will deepen our reach to 15% since the need continues to grow.” The schools are selected based on how much they participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, which is a safety net for America’s kids established in 1946. Interestingly, some of the earliest school feeding in the country was pioneered by a Cincinnati school teacher named Ella Walsh in 1908.

The Cincinnati Public Library is also seeking to help out during this school year in ending child hunger. Diane Smiley, the Youth Services Coordinator for the Library, says “we’re looking at developing a community partnership that would provide free and healthy afterschool snacks to kids at our Homework Help sites…I’m hopeful that it will grow into a reality and maybe as early as the 2012-13 school year.”

This summer the Public Library is working with the Freestore to provide summer feeding as well as a backpack program so children can have a food supply for the weekends. The programs run by the Freestore and the Library will likely become even more significant with the rise in food prices resulting from the drought that has struck much of the country. Families will be in extra need of these food safety nets.

See also:

Ohio has childhood hunger crisis

Summer Feeding Means Summer Learning

Backpacks Fight Hunger in America

Article first published as Freestore, Public Library Seek to Escalate Fight Against Child Hunger in Cincinnati on Blogcritics.

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Summer Feeding Means Summer Learning

This summer the Cincinnati Public Library is hosting summer feeding programs at many of its branch libraries (Cincinnnati Public Library photo)

This summer the city of Cincinnati is trying to ensure that no child goes hungry. This is especially critical with Feeding America‘s recent report that over 25 percent of children suffer from hunger or “food insecurity” in Ohio.

Free meals for children ages 1-18 are being distributed at a number of sites across the city including Cincinnati Public Library branches.

Lisa Hamrick, the manager of the North Central Library branch, says, “I believe we have been incredibly successful in serving lunch to children who might otherwise not eat throughout the day. In fact, many of the children coming to eat lunch arrive at the library when we open at 10:00 (they are actually standing outside waiting for the doors to open) and many days they don’t leave until after 6:00 pm – occasionally they stay until we close at 9:00 pm.”

The North Central branch has served 625 meals to children so far this summer. In fact, according to Hamrick, children are discovering new foods like pita bread, green pepper slices, pears and liking them, a possible exception being hummus.

The US Dept of Agriculture, Cincinnati Public Schools, the Freestore Foodbank, Cincinnati Cooks, and other partners are providing the food for these library feeding programs.

Here’s some feedback on how the library summer feeding plan is going throughout the city. Diane Smiley, the Youth Services coordinator for the Public Library says, “The results are still mixed at this point. Several of our locations are drawing sizable numbers of children while others are having smaller numbers than we’d like so far.”

As is the case with the North Central branch the summer meals are leading to increased use of libraries. Smiley says, “many of our branches participating in the summer lunch program are encouraging the kids to also participate in the Library’s annual summer reading program.”

Debby Carrico, the manager for Elmwood Place library branch, says, “We have noticed an increase in use of the library both for circulation and use of our computers. Program attendance has gone up some as well, since they usually follow the lunches. ”

The Elmwood Place branch is seeing around 10-12 children daily receive the meals. Carrico adds, “Parents sometimes come with the children to help supervise and this is a plus because we rarely see the parents at this branch as they are working several shifts to survive financially. This has been a GREAT service to this neighborhood.”

Drew Pearson, the branch manager for the Bond Hill Library branch says, “we have seen increases in library use as well as Summer Reading participation. This summer our lunch program has averaged 18 participants a day…..Many of the children and teens who have enjoyed the free lunch have listened as staff promoted the opportunity to win prizes for reading. The grand prizes this summer have been very enticing.”

The link between summer food and reading and learning is strong. Tony Fairhead, the director of Childhood Food Solutions (CFS), works to bring summer feeding to hungry children in the Cincinnati area. CFS provides food to students at the Roll Hill Academy. Fairhead says, “Without summer food, we can’t really imagine the children will be able to return to school ready to learn. I think that summer food explains why we have seen this improvement from 25% to 76% for the vitally important third grade reading proficiency.

Fairhead explains, “Teachers provide the academics and Childhood Food Solutions, along with partners like Walmart, makes sure the kids have the nourishment they need during the summer break. We have been tracking reading and math proficiency and test achievement has been increasing since CFS began providing summer food. At Roll Hill, third grade reading proficiency has increased from 25% to 76% since summer food began in 2008.”

Fairhead says these results led the assistant principal at Roll Hill to exclaim two years ago, “Academics + Food = Achievement!”

The charity our Daily Bread, located in downtown Cincinnati, does not host an official summer feeding site but they do have a program called the Kids Club. It’s an after school program for children ages 5-13 and it runs during the summer as well. Children can get a meal, computer access and do arts and crafts projects. The charity relies on donations from the public to offer these programs.

Natalie Fields, the manager of the Deer Park library branch, says, “We serve an average of 10 children a day. Happily, some of those children are staying to attend library programs, participate in the Library’s Summer Reading Program, and use the Library’s resources. I’d say our overall library use and program attendance have seen a small increase so far as a result of the Summer Lunch Program.

Joan Luebering of the Sharonville branch says, “we do see a few new faces” using the library since the summer feeding began. Ned Heeger-Brehm of the Groesbeck branch library notices some new patrons as well since the start of summer feeding. Denise Scretchen of the Deer Park branch library notes the positive impact of the summer feeding with about 15-20 children attending every day it’s offered.

Liz Anderson, the children’s librarian at the Reading Branch Library, says they are serving about 10 children a day with meals. On one day they had as many as 28 children attend. She has noticed some increased use of the library especially when parents arrive with their children.

Frank Dugan, the manager of the Corryville Library, said that more kids came to library programs as a result of the summer feeding while it was offered. The Corryville branch, as well as some others, discontinued their summer feeding for lack of attendance.

There are issues that need to be addressed to determine how future summer feeding should take place and where. It must be determined why low attendance might occur at one site but not another. In some cases it may just be a case of awareness of the summer feeding availability.

With the summer heat though sometimes libraries lose out on attendance. For instance the Pleasant Ridge library branch had small figures of attendance for summer feeding. David Dukart, the manager of the Pleasant Ridge Library, said that they fed 20 children on a few days but most others they were in the range of 4-8 in attendance. However, the nearby Pleasant Ridge Pool’s summer feeding site served 256 meals in the first week of July alone. Regardless of where the meals are offered its vital they are available.

With school out children in need lose access to the free and reduced prices lunches offered through the national lunch program. But distribution of food during summer becomes a problem with schools closed. With hunger on the rise in Cincinnati and throughout the country it becomes vital to make sure safety nets are in place for the vulnerable.

The need for safety nets like school feeding will become even more important with the expected increase in food prices from this summer’s drought. If you can combine this need with learning it makes for a productive combo.

As Smiley says, “We hope to feed both their bodies and their minds!”

Hamrick says, “as challenging as this has been for us, it is also rewarding to have kids we know wouldn’t eat lunch, let alone a nutritious lunch, eat and leave with a smile because they are full and content.”

Starting this week the North Central branch and others will also be adding a “backpack” component. This is a special package of non-perishable food that children can take home to use over the weekends when the summer feeding at the library is not available.

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