The Freestore Foodbank team is comprised of more than 100 employees working together to solve hunger. With one in six neighbors in our Tri-State area at at risk of hunger, we are dedicated to addressing the need. We provide 33 million meals each year in 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Every day, we are working to reduce hunger in the Tri-State area. We couldn’t do it without the tremendous support of more than 10,000 volunteers and our network of 511 community partner agencies. This includes food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, community centers, program sites, senior centers and daycare facilities.
The 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.
Gerson named his practice the Free Store. He incorporated it as a public charity, quit his job, and opened for business in his apartment. In 1979, the Free Store became a founding member of Feeding America, evolving into the Freestore Foodbank, and began distributing food to our hungry neighbors. Today the Freestore Foodbank is one of over 200 food banks within the Feeding America network serving communities across the nation. It’s all thanks to a man with a heart to help others.
Now under the leadership of Kurt Reiber, the Freestore Foodbank is one of Ohio’s largest food banks, distributing 33 million meals annually through a network of 511 community partner agencies serving 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. This includes food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, community centers, program sites, senior centers and daycare facilities.
Become more familiar with Kurt and our team working each day to help fight hunger and bring hope to those who need it most. Our Board of Directors is leading the way for us to find innovative ways to be self-sustaining in today’s economy.
About Freestore Foodbank:
The Freestore Foodbank is the largest emergency food and services provider to children and families in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. The organization distributes 33 million meals annually to low-income individuals and families. The Freestore Foodbank supports 511 community partners in 20 counties throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, including food kitchens, homeless shelters, emergency food pantries, social service centers and program sites. By providing emergency food distribution, the Freestore Foodbank responds to the issue of poverty and food insecurity in our community and provides an array of services (emergency clothing, housing services, SNAP assistance, Medicaid outreach and others) aimed at creating self-reliance. The Freestore Foodbank is a member of Feeding America.
Our Mission, Vision and Objectives
Freestore Foodbank’s mission is to improve lives by eliminating hunger in partnership with our community, and our vision is to create a hunger-free, healthy, and thriving community. To achieve this vision, our objectives are to provide nutritious food, connect to support services and offering a pathway from crisis to stability.
Addressing a Vital Need
Freestore Foodbank provides nearly 33 million meals to hungry children and families each year to help address a vital need in our local communities. We sure couldn’t do it alone!
Working Together to Fight Hunger
Our member network of community partners spread across 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana help us to distribute food to our hungry neighbors. Together, we fight hunger and help bring hope to those who need it most.
Who Are Our Community Partners?
Emergency feeding organizations such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, community centers, program sites, senior centers and daycare facilities are working with Freestore Foodbank to help give hope to those who need it most.
How It Works
Supporting our partners and collaborating to strengthen communities is part of Freestore Foodbank’s commitment.
Training workshops at the Leadership Institute and Capacity Development Center are one way Freestore Foodbank helps its partner agencies build capacity. The workshops cover an array of topics including: fundraising, finances, staff/volunteer management and more. We foster and support coalitions, as well as the sharing of resources and best practices across our partner network.
We’ve got answers! Michael Truitt would be happy to answer any additional questions you have about our community partner agencies by email or by phone 513-482-4525.
At the Freestore Foodbank, we are committed to those we serve in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. We encourage our employees to embody our mission, vision and values while upholding the highest standards of community service. We encourage a healthy level of personal and professional time, and offer wellness programs to assist our employees in maintaining a work/life balance. Our diverse and dedicated staff includes over 100 full-time employees who come from many different areas of our region and all walks of life. We respect and cultivate our many differences, but find unity in our work at the Freestore Foodbank, “to be the leader of a community mobilized to end hunger and address its causes.” Being a part of the Freestore Foodbank team can include positions in any of the following divisions…
The Freestore Foodbank is an Equal Opportunity Employer and complies with all laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1995, and other applicable employment laws, and will not unlawfully discriminate because of age, color, disability, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, or sex in any term, condition, privilege or employment policies and practices.
Valarie S. Boykins – Vice President of Talent Management & Recruitment
Education: Valarie joined Freestore Foodbank in the spring of 2017 after eleven years with TriHealth, most recently as the director of Human Resources/Employment-Talent Acquisition. Her experience includes over 25 years in the areas of executive coaching, team building, workforce development and community relations experience, including as Human Resources Manager, Manager of Diverse Workforce, and Employee and Labor Relations Consultant for the University Hospital/Health Alliance. Valarie earned her BS from the College of Mount Saint Joseph.
Trisha Rayner – VP & Chief Development Officer
Education: Human Resources Certificate Program, Loyola Marymount University, Master of Arts Public Policy and Management, The Ohio State University, Bachelor of Arts Human Ecology, The Ohio State University.
Job Duties: Develop strategies and organize and direct all ongoing work and special projects for fundraising, communications, advocacy, volunteer services and public relations. With the Freestore Foodbank since January 2017.
Tim Weidner – VP & Chief Financial Officer
Education: MBA, Xavier University
Job Duties: Oversees Finance and Budgets. With the Freestore Foodbank since 2001
What does the Freestore motto, Food-Connection-Hope mean to you?
“It means our goal is much more than just putting food in people’s stomach. It is about changing lives.”
Kurt Reiber – President/CEO
Education: BS Finance & Economics, Baldwin-Wallace College, M Business Administration, University of Toledo. With the Freestore Foodbank since 2011
What does the Freestore motto, Food-Connection-Hope mean to you?
I believe that we, the staff, the donors and the volunteers of the Freestore Foodbank, are the “connection” that enables our clients to secure “food” which provides them with “hope”. By helping our clients make this “connection” we help them achieve “self-reliance” during these times in their lives when their need is greatest.
Ramon Rodriguez – Board Chair, Fifth Third Private Bank
“I view hunger, especially childhood hunger, as completely unacceptable especially in a country as bountiful and as blessed as ours. The Freestore not only works to feed those in need, but beyond looks to lend a hand towards lifting up these families and in doing so breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger. I can think of no best mission to personally engage in!”
Brett Blackwell – Board Treasurer, Central Bank
“Hunger is a fundamental problem that can be a byproduct or cause of many social/economic issues that our region faces. Attacking that problem is paramount to improving our region as a whole. The Freestore has a long history of addressing the issue of hunger in our region and has made great strides in eliminating this problem. Its mission, coupled with its stellar reputation, is what attracted me to get involved with Freestore Foodbank.”
Marty Dunn – Board Secretary, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP
“My interest in the mission of helping to feed people, along with my initial work as a member of the Corwine Board, is what inspired my involvement with the Freestore Foodbank. There are many worthy and noble causes in our community, but overcoming the challenge of hunger and lack of nutrition is at the core of all that we can hope to do for our entire community.”
Tom Kirkwood, Vice Chair Development, Thompson Hine LLP
“I wanted to get involved with an organization dedicated to helping people. After doing some research, I knew that the Freestore Foodbank is where I wanted to focus my attention. The more I have learned about hunger in our community, the more passionate I have become about giving back. On top of my Board involvement, I now regularly serve as a volunteer at the Madisonville Education and Assistance Center, a partner food pantry of the Freestore Foodbank.
Julie McGehee – Vice Chair – Governance and Trusteeship, The E.W. Scripps Company
“The Freestore Foodbank, whose mission is to provide food and services, create stability and further self-reliance for people in crisis, speaks to me and touches my soul. The services the Freestore offers uplifts people. It looks at the whole person and all of their circumstances to find the right solution for them. Whether using the services provided by the Customer Connection Center, the nourishment provided via the Foodbank and mobile services or the job training through employment programs, the Freestore offers hope and compassion that changes lives. I am in awe of the many employees and volunteers who make this place so special.”
Damon Allen, Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati
“I once heard Dr. O’dell Owens speak about a child that was lactose intolerant. However, he came to school each day so hungry that he ate the free breakfast, including the free milk, despite how sick it made him. That inspired me to get involved in the Freestore Foodbank and help make a difference in the lives of hungry children.”
Kacie Maushart, The Kroger Co.
“Kroger and the Freestore Foodbank have a strong and long-standing relationship that’s driven by our common goal to feed our community. Whether it be through packing food boxes or serving on the board, I appreciate the opportunity to create positive impact in our neighborhoods.”
Bob Baer, BelFlex Staffing Network
“Our company and mission of Succeeding Together and the involvement we have with the LIFT the Tristate program.”
Sue Baggott, Power Within Consulting, LLC
“My early exposure to the Freestore Foodbank was when our family volunteered on the food sorting line – helping teach our kids about giving back. While on the Impact 100 Board, I learned about the Cincinnati COOKS! and Power Pack programs. Overall, I’m impressed with the comprehensive approaches the Freestore Foodbank has taken to provide critical hunger relief, as well as to make connections to services that build stability, self-reliance and life improvement.”
Cassandra Barham, The Contact Center (Benefits Rights Advocacy Group)
“At one time in my life, I was on welfare and the Freestore helped me when I was low on food. Joining the board has allowed me to be a voice for the community and share the need that I have seen.”
Mark Bodnar, AXA Advisor, LLC
“I was introduced to the Freestore Foodbank by late Board Member and Rubber Duck Regatta Founder Bob Edwards. He brought to light the issue of hunger right here in our own community. I was compelled to get involved to help make a difference. I currently serve as chair of the Rubber Duck Regatta, the Freestore’s largest fundraising event. It is an honor working with a tremendous team of Freestore Foodbank employees and volunteers to help make our community a better place.”
Tony Cole, Anthony Cole Training Group
“CEO Emeritus John Young’s passion of feeding children inspired me to get involved with the Freestore Foodbank, as well as my wife’s passion of helping others. It’s great to do something that is meaningful in our community that can change lives.”
Anne Lilly Cone, Anne Lilly Cone, LLC
“My personal beliefs are part of what inspired my involvement in the Freestore Foodbank. My family also has a history of giving back to the community.”
Marsha Croxton – Immediate Past Board Chair, Foodbank, Retired, Women’s Crisis Center of N. Kentucky
“No one should be hungry, especially individuals living in the United States where we have abundant resources. I believe that if I don’t actively participate in ending the meal gap for our community then I become a part of the problem. Serving on the Board of Trustees has allowed me to become a part of the solution which is very rewarding!”
Jim Dressman – Dressman Benzinger Lavelle psc.
“Hunger is an issue that exists right here in our own neighborhoods. The more I learn, the more passionate I am about helping to make a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors. As future generations look back, I want to ensure we’re seen as a society that cares for those in need. The Freestore Foodbank’s mission does just that. That is why I’m involved.”
Melissa Klein, MD, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
“In my practice, I care for children from underserved communities whose families often worry about running out of food which impacts health and well-being. I wanted to be part of a forward-thinking community organization that helps children and families thrive, which is why I got involved in the Freestore Foodbank.”
Paula Neises, Cushman & Wakefield
“I was first asked to join the Corwine Board, which oversees real estate assets/facilities for the Freestore Foodbank. With my experience in commercial real estate I felt I could add value in this area to a worthwhile organization. I immediately connected with the amazing leadership team and quickly learned just how vital the Freestore Foodbank’s services are to our community. I was honored to be invited to join the Board and have greatly enjoyed serving this organization for the past ten years.”
Dick Rosenthal, Uptown Arts Foundation
“Long before I became a trustee, my mother made contributions to the Freestore Foodbank. Then, my wife, Lois, became a trustee and established the Rosenthal Fresh Food program. Like them, I’ve long been committed to helping folks become self-sustaining with dignity and well-founded hope for a better life.”
Marianne Rowe, Retired, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
“I was first introduced to the Freestore Foodbank in the 70’s by Paul Long, pastor of the Indian Hill Church. We began to volunteer, bringing food to the former Vine Street location. I have been interested and involved in the Freestore’s efforts ever since.”
David Taylor, The Procter & Gamble Company
“Before joining the Freestore Board, I spent eight years on the Board of Feeding America, including two years as the National Chair. In that role I got the opportunity to visit many outstanding food banks, including the Freestore. I saw firsthand the enormous positive impact that local and regional food banks have on their communities. For this reason, I am honored to help the Freestore in any way that I can in whatever way that I can.”
Richard P. Vaughan, Peoples Bank
“Kurt Reiber’s passion inspired me to get involved in the Freestore Foodbank. That passion is felt throughout the entire organization and ensuring over 94% of all donations go to those in need. I’m inspired by the entire team at the Freestore Foodbank. Seeing and hearing the stories of how the Freestore has helped change lives, for the better. Giving people hope in their fellow man and treating people with respect and dignity.”
Warren Weber, PNC Bank
“Rich Boehne, chairman of the board, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, introduced me to the Freestore Foodbank and I continue to be inspired through helping our hungry neighbors.”
Larry Williams, Retired CFO of Brandicorp
“The Freestore Foodbank and its partner soup kitchen, shelters, and food pantries have such a tremendous impact in moving people towards self-reliance. It’s a privilege to be a part of such an enthusiastic collaboration of people, companies and organizations from all different parts of the Tri-State, focused on one goal – making a difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors in the community.”
Dwinelva Zackery, St. Elizabeth Healthcare
“The work of the Freestore Foodbank is vitally important to addressing barriers to self-sufficiency among the most vulnerable in our community. I believe the vast array of quality services provided are essential to building capacity and addressing the broad impact of poverty. Fulfilling the basic need of food for our families is a social justice issue. I look forward to working hand in hand with the dedicated Freestore team to make a difference in our region.”
Baker & Hostetler LLP
Retired CFO (Brandicorp)
University of Cincinnati
Baird Wealth Management
Retired Executive Director
(Women’s Crisis Center, Inc.)
Investment Strategist, Researcher, Author
Fifth Third Bank
Community Trustee (Retired)
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center