Regional Food Center’s Need For Volunteers Grows

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As the need for food security in Southeast Ohio grows exponentially, the need for essential resources and volunteers grows, too.

The Athens, Hocking, Perry Community Action Agency (HAPCAP) serves nine counties, and more than 58,000 people in food insecure areas.

Just as Southeast Ohio families have felt the hit of the recession, so has the food bank.

Part of HAPCAP is the Regional Food Center, the food bank provides food for more than 19 percent of residents in the Southeast Ohio service area.

HAPCAP Operations Support Manager Teresa Cline-Scurlock has witnessed the economy’s effect on the food bank.

“Our shelves back there are bare,” Cline-Scurlock said. “We don’t get a lot of the donations from the area food processing plants that we used to get, because they’re watching and tightening their belts too.”

Ohio is the sixth state in the U.S. with the highest number of food insecure families, and over 59 percent of Ohio families participate in government food programs.

There are many ways area residents can get involved to begin to lower those numbers, according to Cline-Scurlock.

Each month, the Regional Food Center puts together 4,000 boxes of essential foods for local families; without volunteers, the task of preparing those boxes would be virtually impossible.

Food drives are also an essential form of supplementing the food center’s growing need.

“I think that, as a community, we need to step it up and do more food drives. And those of us who can help get food to the food banks so we can go ahead and get it out to pantries, so in turn the families can have some food for their families. It’s a great volunteer project,” Cline-Scurlock said.

The food bank struggles each month to fill its shelves, so HAPCAP now gathers resources from out-of-state food sources to supplement dwindling donations.

However, no matter how difficult it might seem, HAPCAP is dedicated to their cause.

“If we can help them get by for a week with their groceries so they can take that money to pay a bill, then I think that’s a great thing,” Cline-Scurlock said.