Local Spotlight: Freestore Foodbank 

 The Freestore Foodbank’s mission is to create a hunger-free, healthy and thriving community by partnering with the community to improve lives by eliminating hunger. The Freestore Foodbank offers nutritious food, a connection to needed support services and a pathway from crisis to stability. Southwest Ohio Parent spoke to Trisha Rayner, chief development officer & VP of external affairs at Freestore Foodbank, to learn more about this Cincinnati-based non-profit.  

How did the Freestore Foodbank get started? 

Freestore Foodbank began in 1971. Its early beginnings come with a story — a man with a heart to help others. Frank Gerson, a worker at Cincinnati’s incinerator, saw useable household items being tossed away. He began collecting those items and distributing them to disadvantaged families.  

Who do you help in the community? 

Last year, Freestore Foodbank distributed more than 42 million meals to the 280,000 neighbors in our community who don’t know where they will find their next meal. Through Childhood Feeding programs such as School Pantries and weekend power packs, we are able to feed the 90,000 children in our community who are hungry. 

Do you have a time of year that is busiest? 

Throughout the holiday season, we will distribute more than 9 million pounds of food throughout our 20 county service area in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. 

What do you have planned for the future? 

As we grow in the number of meals distributed in the community, we look forward to our new Community Resource and Distribution Center located just west of Downtown Cincinnati. This new location will allow Freestore Foodbank to expand our healthy food storage and distribution, double our workforce development graduates, and create a stronger infrastructure across our pantry network that currently consists of more than 500 community pantries, soup kitchens, school and hospital pantries, and shelters. 

If families need help, how can they get it?  

Through our Customer Connection Center’s Liberty Street Market located at 112 E. Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, Freestore Foodbank offers a choice pantry, much like a regular grocery store, to those in need. This means that families struggling to find vital nutrition can select the items that fit the needs of their family, giving them one less thing to worry about as they work to make ends meet. The Liberty Street Market, open Monday-Friday 8 a.m.- 4 p.m., serves up to 300 families daily and more than 88,000 individuals annually. Please call our Customer Connection Center at (513) 241-1064 or visit us for more information on emergency food assistance.  

How can people help the Freestore Foodbank? 

Every dollar donated to Freestore Foodbank is able to help provide three meals to the community. To donate, visit us at FreestoreFoodbank.org or call us at (513) 482-3663. 

The holiday season is a great time to create a virtual food drive and collect donations from your friends and family for a great cause.  If you are interested in participating in a virtual food drive, we would love to have you join us in our effort!  Please visit freestorefoodbank.org/vfd and fill out the request form. You will receive a custom donation page to share with family, friends and coworkers. 

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