SAMARITAN OUTREACH – FRIDAY MORNING PICK-UP
It is a humid, very early June morning in the small town of Hillsboro, Ohio. In the parking lot of the Samaritan Outreach Center, several cars with small trailers begin to line up. A friendly
gentleman in overalls warns another that a parked van is “blocking the rig” – as soon as it’s
moved, an enormous semi turns into the lot, filling up all the spaces.
The driver, 16-year Freestore Foodbank veteran employee Bob Hogan, has been on the road
since 2:30 a.m. making deliveries – to Waverly, Peebles, Winchester, and now Hillsboro, his last
“While visiting the 1st grade class, a little boy started clapping when the volunteer entered the room,” says the Power Pack coordinator at South Avondale Elementary. “Power Packs are making a difference in the lives of these children, because many of them do not have the food to sustain them until they make it back on Monday morning.”
The Freestore Foodbank serves more than 300,000 people in 20 counties annually with the help
of over 275 community partner agencies in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Samaritan Outreach in
Highland County sees 400-500 families each week; but there are many smaller agencies in
even more rural areas that feed far fewer. Each Friday morning at 7:30 a.m., between 10-15
agencies from surrounding counties come to pick up food to fill their pantries.
“The 1,400 pounds that we’ll pick up this morning will last us about four days,” says Christi
Hawke, Director of Emergency Food and Community Services for Highland County Community
Action. Her agency, which is supported by donations and additional local purchasing, feeds
over 200 families per month. “The Freestore is crucial in that they allow us to obtain product at a
very low cost; otherwise, we couldn’t afford to meet the need.”
Ruth and Richard Crabtree operate a small pantry in Lynchberg, and are faithfully “the first ones in line,” every Friday morning. Long-term Freestore Foodbank agency partners, the Crabtrees
proudly won the ‘Food Pantry’ of the year award from the Freestore Foodbank when they were operating the Adams County Interfaith House in West Union, Ohio in 2001.
Open since 1989, Samaritan Outreach’s supply used to be sufficient to meet the local demand.
Now, 10-15 more pantries and soup kitchens have sprung up – in churches, donated buildings
and make-shift cafeterias – simply because the need has grown exponentially.
“This area was hit especially hard when (large, international shipping company) DHL closed,”
says Cindy Hart, chairman of the board and interim director of Samaritan Outreach. “A year ago,
we were only seeing low-income families. Beginning in early 2013, we started seeing blue collar
and now even white collar families. They have to choose between buying groceries or paying
the electric bill.”
Considered an emergency food resource, Samaritan Outreach gives families enough food to
last roughly a week.
Statistics show that Highland County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state;
“And even that stat is based on people who are still getting unemployment checks,” says Cindy.
“The reality is that here, a lot of folks’ unemployment has long run out.”