Tag Archives: Cincinnati

Cincinnati Libraries Starting Food Backpack Program

Seven Cincinnati Public Library branches will be giving out weekend backpacks of food to children as part of the summer feeding program. (Deer Park Library branch photo)

Seven Cincinnati Public Library branches will be offering backpacks of food for children to take home on weekends. The backpack program starts this Friday, July 20th.

The weekend backpack program is in addition to the summer feeding taking place at these library sites on weekdays. During the summer needy children lose access to the school year lunch and breakfast programs. Summer feeding is needed to fill in the gaps especially with child hunger rates exceeding 25 percent in Ohio.

The Freestore Foodbank is providing the funding for the weekend backpack program. For more information contact the participating libraries listed below:

Deer Park Public Library (3970 E. Galbraith Rd. Cincinnati OH 45236) 513-369-4450

Elmwood Place Public Library (6120 Vine St. Cincinnati OH 45216) 513-369-4452

Forest Park Public Library (655 Waycross Rd. Cincinnati OH 45240) 513-369-4478

Groesbeck Public Library (2994 W. Galbraith Rd. Cincinnati OH 45239) 513-369-4454

North Central Public Library (11109 Hamilton Ave. Cincinnati OH 45231) 513-369-6068

Reading Public Library (9001 Reading Rd. Cincinnati OH 45215) 513-369-4465

Sharonville Public Library (10980 Thornview Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45241) 513-369-6049

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Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank Summer Feeding Sites for Children

When summer comes children are at an increased risk of hunger since they lose access to the free or reduced price meals available at school. Summer feeding programs need to be established to fill in the gaps. In Hamilton County last year there were 45,950 needy students who took part in the federal lunch program during the school year while only 3,990 children received summer feeding. (Feeding America photo)

The Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank, with the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has announced the summer food service program. From June 11 through Aug. 10 (closed July 4th) children ages 1-18 will be able to receive lunches at eight sites throughout the city. The Freestore Foodbanks’s Cincinnati Cooks students will prepare the meals which will include sandwiches and tuna salad.

During the school year children from lower income families have access to free or reduced price meals via the federal school lunch program. When school closes, children often lose access to these meals unless summer feeding is sponsored.

The Children’s Hunger Alliance of Ohio reports that in Hamilton County last year 45,950 eligible children took part in the free/reduced price lunch program. In the summer though only 3,990 eligible children received meals because of the difficulty distributing food with school closed.

Governor John Kasich recently issued an executive order which would provide $1 million to help increase summer feeding coverage in parts of the state. More funding will be needed though to help Cincinnati and other areas provide more summer meals.

Jessica Shelly, the food service director of Cincinnati Public Schools, says that free breakfast will be served at school sites during the summer. This will be a continuation of the free breakfast program offered when school is in session.

A recent report from Feeding America showed that 18 percent of the population of Hamilton County is suffering from hunger or “food insecurity.” The availability of free or reduced price meals is vital to fighting a child hunger crisis in the Tri-State area.

The eight locations for Freestore Foodbank summer lunches beginning June 11 include:

Deer Park Public Library (3970 E. Galbraith Rd. Cincinnati OH 45236, M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-4450

Elmwood Place Public Library (6120 Vine St. Cincinnati OH 45216, M-F 1:00-1:30pm) 513-369-4452

Forest Park Public Library (655 Waycross Rd. Cincinnati OH 45240, M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-4478

Groesbeck Public Library (2994 W. Galbraith Rd. Cincinnati OH 45239 M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-4454

North Central Public Library (11109 Hamilton Ave. Cincinnati OH 45231 M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-6068

Reading Public Library (9001 Reading Rd. Cincinnati OH 45215 M-F 12:00-1:00pm) 513-369-4465

Sharonville Public Library (10980 Thornview Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45241 M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-6049

Skyline Community Center (8500 Pippin Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45251 M-F 12:00-1:00pm) (513) 729-0757

Read about more summer feeding sites run by Cincinnati Public Schools.

article originally published May 24th at Cincinnati.com

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Free Breakfasts and Lunches for Children in Cincinnati This Summer

When summer comes children are at an increased risk of hunger since they lose access to the free or reduced price meals available at school. Summer feeding programs need to be established to fill in the gaps. In Hamilton County last year there were 45,950 needy students who took part in the federal lunch program during the school year while only 3,990 children received summer feeding. (Feeding America photo)

The Cincinnati Public Schools have announced their list of summer feeding sites. Children ages 1-18 can receive free breakfast and lunch at these locations which includes summer school sites and community and school locations.

The summer feeding program is meant to fill in the gap when school closes and children no longer have access to the federal school breakfast and lunch programs. It’s an effort to curb child hunger as Hamilton County has 18 percent of its population considered “food insecure.”

The Children’s Hunger Alliance of Ohio has an automated service you can call (1 800 481 6885) which will help you find the summer feeding site closest to you.

Summer Feeding Locations in Cincinnati for Children Ages 1-18

summer school sites

community and school sites

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Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank Starts Tornado Relief Fund

A house leveled by the tornadoes that struck the Tri-State of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana (Freestore Foodbank photo)

The Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank has started a relief fund in response to the devastating tornadoes last week in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

The Freestore, a member of the Feeding America network, is the largest food aid provider in the Greater Cincinnati area. Some of the member agencies the Freestore partners with were impacted by the storms.

The Freestore has been providing food aid to communities struck by the tornadoes, including a distribution yesterday in Moscow, Ohio. That town saw around 80 percent of its homes damaged in the storm.

You can donate to the relief fund at their web site. The Freestore says the donated funds “will be evenly distributed to our member agencies in devastated areas, and used to purchase items they need to bring comfort and stability back into the lives of the people in our communities.”


The Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank's Mobile Food Pantry is bringing food to families affected by the massive tornadoes in the Tri-State area of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. (Freestore Foodbank photo)

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Freestore Foodbank Deploys Mobile Pantry for Tornado Relief

The Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank's Mobile Pantry

The Freestore Foodbank of Cincinnati is distributing relief supplies to tornado devastated communities in the Tri-State area of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Last Friday tornadoes ripped through numerous towns, destroying homes and leaving many people with a severe shortage of basic supplies.

The Freestore, a member of the Feeding America network, is using its Kraft Mobile Food Pantry to get supplies to storm victims. The Pantry was in Crittenden, Kentucky on Wednesday bringing food to the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission disaster relief area.

On Friday, March 9th the pantry will be at the Grant Memorial Church in Moscow, Ohio, a town which saw around 80 percent of its homes damaged by the tornadoes. On March 13th the mobile pantry will bring food to Pendleton County storm victims at the Flower Creek Community Center. The Freestore is also helping distribute soap, toothpaste and other personal hygiene items.

Kelloggs is donating a truckload of cereal to the Freestore to use for this relief mission.

You can donate to the Freestore’s tornado relief fund at their web site. Spokesperson Anna Hogan says, “we will split the donated funds between our member agencies in the affected areas to purchase supplies.”

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Matthew 25: Ministries ready to aid Midwest towns leveled by massive storms

The "Doorway to Helping the Needy of the World" located in the Matthew 25: Ministries processing center (photo courtesy Matthew 25: Ministries)

Matthew 25: Ministries, a humanitarian aid agency in Cincinnati, is collecting food, first aid, blankets and other supplies for communities devastated by tornadoes on Friday.

The Tri-State area of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky saw one its most destructive storms in its history. Early reports say at least 17 people have been killed in Indiana and Kentucky by tornadoes.

Large parts of the town of Holton, Indiana have been leveled and fatalities reported according to WLWT news. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that 80 percent of homes in the town of Moscow, Ohio were damaged.

In Kenton County in Northern Kentucky tornadoes tore through residential areas and caused 3 deaths. The Cincinnati Enquirer also reports that multiple homes were destroyed, trees uprooted and cars and trucks were lifted and thrown by the powerful winds.

Matthew 25: Ministries says it’s working to assess the damage and needs of the victims. For information on how to donate visit their web site at www.m25m.org. Matthew 25 Ministries says it accepts donations of cash or goods for disaster aid and humanitarian relief programs. They also welcome volunteers to their 132,000 square foot facility in Cincinnati.

Update from Matthew 25: Ministries — We expect to begin disaster relief next week for areas in the Tri-state damaged by yesterday’s tornadoes. Matthew 25’s Assessment Team, led by Disaster Relief Coordinator Tim Mettey, will personally deliver initial supplies, identify the most urgent needs, work with partners to establish distribution centers and develop operational templates for ongoing aid. Matthew 25 is currently requesting first response support including monetary donations, non-perishable food, personal care products, cleaning supplies, paper products, baby supplies, and first aid items.

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Fighting Hunger in America and the Penny Lunch Tradition

Hunger is on the rise in America. The Conference of Mayors recently reported that 86 percent of surveyed cities have seen increases in the need for emergency food aid. These findings coincide with a United States Department of Agriculture report that 20 percent of children in the United States are hungry.

To turn the tide, we need to rekindle the passion and innovation of those who started the fight to end hunger in America more than a century ago.

In 1908 a Cincinnati school teacher, Ella Walsh, saw that her students were struggling. They looked pale. The students were not getting enough to eat. This obviously had serious health as well as educational repercussions. They could not learn on an empty stomach.

Walsh could see malnutrition before her eyes. But she did not just “file it and forget it.” She took action. She got some cooking materials together, found a room, arranged a table, and started serving what came to be known as the “penny lunch.”

This was one of the first attempts to provide school feeding for children. When the school superintendent stopped by to see Walsh’s program in action, he called it a major breakthrough in solving the “problem of the underfed child.”

And it caught on. A doctor quoted in the Cincinnati Post said the penny lunch programs were “like the measles: started, you cannot stop them.” Educators around the United States and even other countries started penny lunch programs. During the Great Depression, these meals were an ever-so-vital safety net.

Over the years, these early efforts at school feeding were strengthened, and in 1946 Harry Truman signed into law the National School Lunch program. Upon signing the legislation, Truman said, “No nation is any healthier than its children.”

Today millions of school children receive free or low price meals because of this initiative that had its earliest roots in the penny lunch. But just enacting this legislation was not enough. Congress had to make improvements when needed.

In 1968, for instance, Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern, who had witnessed the effect of child hunger in war-torn Europe, started a committee to bolster the existing national school lunch program so more needy children could take part. Their work added millions of children to a new national breakfast program and expanded summer feeding initiatives.

But despite these efforts the journey to end child hunger is far from complete. There are still huge gaps in participation in the national school breakfast and summer feeding; and when summer comes and schools close the drop in participation is dramatic.

In 2010, according to Feeding America, 20.6 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program, but just 2.3 million participated in summer feeding. When schools close for the summer distribution of food becomes a huge problem.

Fixing this problem requires a combination of innovation, like Ella Walsh showed, and government support, as demonstrated by McGovern and Dole.

For instance, communities can help set up sites for summer feeding. If enough people volunteer and help spread the word about summer feeding, the problem of food distribution can largelybe solved at the local level. Mobile food pantries for summer are another option, but need support.

In Cincinnati, the tradition of school feeding started by Walsh continues with the universal free breakfast program for public schools. It’s called “Grab and Go,” and it gives every student a free meal in the morning. The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, school boards, and donations by businesses and organizations. If more school systems adopted this program across the country, it would mean significant health and educational benefits for students.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt of Second Harvest Foodbanks of Ohio says governments at all levels should do their part in “implementing universal free breakfast programs as the cornerstone of true education reform.”

When Ella Walsh kicked off the penny lunch to combat hunger, she said, “It is wonderful to watch the improvement in the children who have heretofore been underfed. Their little faces are rounded out and they are healthy, active human beings, interested in their work, progressing rapidly, a contrast to the pale, listless child of a few months before.”

The effect of this meal is just as important today. We know what a difference school feeding can make. Now there must be action to ensure that no child goes hungry and we that we continue America’s quest to end hunger.

Originally distributed by the History News Service.

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Fighting Hunger: An Interview with Joodi Archer of Matthew 25: Ministries

The "Doorway to Helping the Needy of the World" located in the Matthew 25: Ministries processing center (photo courtesy Matthew 25: Ministries)

Cincinnati, Ohio has historically been at the forefront of the fight against hunger, this tradition starting with “penny lunch” programs in the early 1900s and more recently with universal free breakfast for public schools.

Since its founding in 1991, Matthew 25: Ministries has been a big part of this tradition, fighting hunger both in the United States and other countries. Based in Blue Ash, Ohio the charity is dedicated to helping those in need, whether it is disaster victims in Joplin, Missouri or earthquake-devastated Haiti.

Matthew 25: Ministries even has its own food processing center which makes a special rice/soy blend. Around 1 million meals of this food were sent to Japan to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck there last year.

Matthew 25: Ministries recently completed a Fighting Hunger Food Drive in Cincinnati which was kicked off by a 5K Road Race.

In the United States one in 6 people are suffering from hunger according to studies by Feeding America. Matthew 25: Ministries is on the front lines taking on this growing hunger crisis. Let’s find out how in this interview with Joodi Archer, the organization’s media relations director.

How many food pantries does your agency support year round?

We work with the majority of our food pantries during our Fighting Hunger 5K. Last year, we served approximately 40 pantries and shelters during that time. We do work with some pantries and shelters on an ongoing basis throughout the year depending on the quantities and types of food we have donated to us – most of these pantries would also benefit from our Fighting Hunger Food Drive. Matthew 25: Ministries is committed to serving the needs of Greater Cincinnati during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Is most of your support to the pantries in the form of canned goods or rice/soy blend you produce?

For our 2011 Fighting Hunger Food Drive, approximately 20,000 pounds of the 60,000 total pounds of distributed food consisted of our rice/soy blend. Throughout the year, approximately 25% of the total pounds of locally distributed food could be our rice/soy blend.

Are you seeing a greater need for assistance from food pantries in the area?

The need for assistance is escalating at a significant pace, mirroring the downturn in the economy and continuing high unemployment rates. Pantries are reporting double and triple the requests for assistance and are struggling to meet the needs of recipients. The pantries we provide for often serve hard-to-reach, non-mobile populations, and they are struggling to meet the increasing requests for assistance.

How can someone get involved with Matthew 25?

People of all ages and financial means can get involved with Matthew 25: Ministries. Here are some suggestions:

Volunteer: Matthew 25: Ministries is always in need of volunteers at our 132,000 square foot warehouse in Blue Ash, Ohio. Opportunities exist for individuals, families, and groups of any size. (Please see our volunteer guidelines for more information.) For groups located outside of the Greater Cincinnati area, Matthew 25: Ministries provides a great opportunity for day-long volunteer trips or overnight multiple-day trips. Please call 513-793-6256 for more information and for help with scheduling your visit.

Contribute: More than 99% of Matthew 25: Ministries’ cash and in-kind donations go towards programs. In 2011, for every $1 donated, Matthew 25 distributed $64 in humanitarian aid. That means that even a small gift will have an enormous impact on the lives of those in need.

Collections: Collect products and goods for the poorest of the poor. This is a great way for groups such as schools, businesses, clubs, etc. to help. We are always in need of clothing, personal care items, non-perishable food, medical supplies, and educational materials. Contact Matthew 25: Ministries for suggestions of critically needed items.

Fundraise: Host a spaghetti dinner,auction, or concert. Make Matthew 25: Ministries a part of your church’s mission budget, mission Sunday, or special collection. Raise money as a general donation or to support a specific project. For example, a small but sturdy house in Nicaragua costs about $1,300. One M25M donor spearheaded enough fundraising activities to pay for the construction of twenty-two houses-each with a cement floor, solid door, shuttered windows, and waterproof roof! Ask M25M for assistance on fundraising ideas or promotional materials.

Pallet to the Poor: Sponsor a pallet of goods to send to the poor. A four-foot by four-foot pallet costs $192 and typically contains about $4,200 in products and supplies. Each pallet is labeled with the name of the sponsoring individual, group, or organization. A letter of acknowledgment and thanks lets the donor know where the pallet of products is going. Contact Joodi Archer for more information on the Pallet to the Poor Program.

Connect: Introduce a potential corporate donor to Matthew 25: Ministries. Your phone call or e-mail connecting Matthew 25: Ministries to the correct contact individual can save weeks or months of research to establish a connection. Corporate donors receive many benefits from partnering with Matthew 25: Ministries including substantial tax benefits. See our Corporate Partners section for more information.

Visit Matthew 25:Ministries to learn more.

Article first published as Fighting Hunger: An Interview with Joodi Archer of Matthew 25: Ministries on Blogcritics.

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Interview with Christine Grote, Author of Dancing in Heaven

When Christine Grote returned to school at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio, she began the journey of an emerging writer. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English 2007 and even started up a literary magazine for the college.

Her writings began to get published by magazines and newspapers, including St. Anthony Messenger , RED Webzine , and the Cincinnati Enquirer . Her journey as a writer would also take her down another path: That of an author.

Christine just wrote and published a memoir about her sister Annie, who passed away in 2009. Dancing in Heaven takes you inside Christine’s family and their life with Annie, who was disabled from birth.

In the following interview, Christine talks about Dancing in Heaven and also the process of publishing this inspirational memoir.

Tell about when the inspiration came to you to write a book about your sister’s life.

I’ve always known I would eventually write a story about Annie. This particular story began as a short story in collage form about Annie’s life for a creative writing class I was taking at the College of Mount St. Joseph in 2005, several years before Annie died. Although my teacher encouraged me to pursue the story by polishing it and seeking publication, I put it away. When Annie died in August of 2009, I felt compelled to tell her story. So I combined my short story with notes, journal entries, and e-mails from Annie’s last days. I filled in with more stories and drafted Dancing in Heaven.

What challenges did you face in the journey from an inspired idea to a ready-to-publish manuscript?

The first challenge was determining what to include and what to cut. I do a lot of revising, and make a fairly big mess of it in the process by at times physically cutting printed pages and taping things back together in a different arrangement. I felt the most challenged by, or least secure in, the final editing as a self-publishing author. No one has your back, so you have all the responsibility of making sure the final product is clean and correct.

What led you to start your own publishing company as opposed to sending your book to a traditional publisher?

Originally I intended to seek traditional publication. I bought books about getting an agent, writing a book proposal, and getting published. I sent out a single query letter to a recommended agent. I never heard anything back. Not even a simple, “I got your query and I’m not interested.” Agents don’t even have time for that much.

Meanwhile I was reading about self-publishing online. I liked the fact that I would keep control of the final product, including the title. I liked the fact that I wouldn’t have to wait what could be four or more years to find an agent. I wanted Annie’s story out there so I could move on with my life. I am not a very patient person. I did not want to have to rely on my query letter in a stack of thousands, making it into the right individual’s hands at the right time. It’s a good story. I wanted to tell it. I took a self-publishing workshop from Writer’s Digest University online and saw that I could do it.

What advice would you give other people inspired to write a book? Would you ever teach a seminar on publishing a book?

I think anyone inspired to write a book, or pursue any other creative outlet, owes it to themselves, not to “try,” but to do it. I read somewhere there are no “aspiring” writers, only writers. We only get one chance at this life, and the years go quickly.

I don’t have any plans to teach a seminar, and don’t really feel qualified to do it. But I am more than happy to answer individuals’ questions or help others in any way I can.

Where can people get a copy or more information about Dancing In Heaven?

You can read a brief summary, a few excerpts, and what others are saying about the book at the Dancing in Heaven page on my blog. Dancing in Heaven is available in print and for the Kindle at Amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble online in print (they actually have it discounted 10%) and for the Nook . It is also available in other ebook formats from Smashwords .

I love to hear comments or answer questions from individuals who have read Dancing in Heaven. They can do that on the page at my blog.

View the original article on blogcritics.org

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A School Lunch Hero for Disabled Children

In 1944 World War II was still raging. Students though at a school for disabled children in Cincinnati were facing their own daily struggles. Even having enough money for a school lunch was no easy task.

The school had a fund set up to provide lunches for the students. Keeping this fund resourced was the problem; that is, until the school received some help from someone very generous. As a result, the school lunch fund got a big boost which meant many more meals for the students.

Who was this mystery helper? It was one of their own students, 10 year old Charles Graff Jr. However, Graff had to study at home because he had the disease hemophilia. This is a disease where any slight cut could cause severe and even deadly bleeding. As Charles was confined to his home, a teacher from the school visited him there to give lessons.

Charles also had a hobby, collecting sales tax stamps. These were stamps placed on various items sold in stores, and you could redeem these stamps for cash from the government. So Charles kept collecting and as the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, he would give them to his teacher who would drop them off at the school. The tax stamps would then be redeemed, providing the school with a fund to buy the student lunches or sometimes even clothes.

Charles’s father, who worked at the Red Top Brewing Co., got co-workers involved to provide Charles with more stamps. More stamps meant more meals for the children.

Charles was ahead of his time. In 1944 there was no National School Lunch program; there was a limited luncheon program under President Roosevelt.

In 1946 President Harry Truman signed into law the National School Lunch Act, which provided free or reduced-price lunches for needy children all around the country. Healthier children meant better educated and more productive citizens for the future. It was a program built to last.

Charles, whose nickname was Bubbles, remained confined to his home and sometimes a wheelchair, due to his condition. That did not stop him though from being the “official” for many games his friends played on the street. Charles would officiate the games from his window.

The hemophilia took his life in 1950 at the age of 15. His legacy carries on. What Graff did in helping his classmates receive lunches is an example for all to follow. Fighting child hunger is about problem solving. You need people to find solutions, not excuses for why children cannot access basic foods.

Groups like Feeding America work to make sure children do not go hungry. This means strengthening the national school lunch program when required, or filling in gaps with after-school meals and summer feeding. For this reason, Charles Graff would make a great honorary ambassador for Feeding America.

Article originally published as Cincinnati’s School Lunch Hero for Disabled Children on Cincinnati.com and A School Lunch Hero for Disabled Children on Blogcritics.


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