Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 28, 2012

Harvest, Food Bank alliance will help both agencies feed the hungry

Huntington, W.Va. — River Cities Harvest Operations Coordinator Bob Owen said one of the major benefits of his agency’s new partnership with the Huntington Area Food Bank is it will make it much cheaper for RCH to supply the agencies it serves with foods rich in protein.

Most notably, Owen said, RCH will be able to purchase beef — for which it had been paying roughly $2 a pound — for 19 cents a pound though the food bank.

Additionally, the alliance will enable RCH to provide more different types of food than in the past, Owen said.

“We’ll be able to get all kinds of items we didn’t have access to previously,” he said.

The formal announcement that RCH and HAFB have become partner distribution agencies came Tuesday at a joint press conference at Big Sandy Superstores Arena. Officials said they expect both agencies to benefit from the joining of forces.

For example, the alliance will provide a new distribution channel for some of the thousands of pounds of produce grown every year for RCH by inmates of the Federal Correctional Institution at Summit, Owen said.

Last summer, the garden yielded 40,000 pounds of fresh vegetables, according to Owen.

RCH also will be able to take advantage of the food bank’s affiliation with Feeding America, the largest hunger relief agency in the country.

Owen said the alliance between RCH and HAFB made so much sense it was somewhat surprising the two hadn’t joined forces before now. The two agencies have overlapping service areas — HAFB serves four counties in Kentucky, including Boyd and Greenup, along with 12 in Kentucky and one in Ohio. The organization provides food to 260 agencies in that territory.

RCH is a nonprofit food-rescue organization. It’s a major supplier for the only program in Ashland that provides free hot meals on a regular basis, Community Kitchen. Its other regular recipients include Safe Harbor, the Hillcrest-Bruce Mission, the Shelter of Hope, the Salvation Army, church food pantries, local school resource centers, Helping Hands in Greenup County and the City Welfare Mission in Ironton.

Tuesday’s news conference also honored the corporate partners who made it possible for the food bank to provide assistance to West Liberty and Salyersville, the areas of Kentucky hardest hit by the tornadoes of March 2.

According to Scott Frasure, development director for HAFB, the agency mobilized quickly and began shipping food, water and cleaning supplies to the affected areas the day after the storms.

“One thing the people there did not have to worry about was whether they would have anything to eat,” he said.

One of the major corporate supporters of the relief effort was Big Sandy Superstores. Company President Robbie Van Hoose on Tuesday presented two checks — one for $13,716 to HAFB and one for $1,000 to RCH. Those represented the match the company agreed to provide at the outset of the donation on which it partnered with Clear Channel Communications. Big Sandy stores also served as dropoff points for donations.

Kroger and Walmart also served as partners in the effort. Both sought donations from customers and provided assistance through their corporate giving programs, Frasure said.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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