Archive for Media

Story in Pictures – May 2018

Mediaon May 1st, 2018Comments Off on Story in Pictures – May 2018

April was dedicated to recognizing our volunteers and thanking them for their dedication and support. The Freestore Foodbank organized a Volunteer Appreciation Event in early April to celebrate those who donated over 100 hours to us this past year. The 21st Annual Cincinnati Canstruction, one of our most popular events of the year, was held in April and it was a wonderful success. There were also some generous donations that came in to help us in our efforts to end hunger. As always, we remain grateful to our volunteers, donors and community partners for their support.


Volunteer Appreciation Night
We kicked off Volunteer Appreciation Week with a beautiful event to celebrate individuals who have donated over 100 hours to us this past year. We are grateful to our wonderful friends at Rhinegeist for hosting this event.


21st Annual Cincinnati Canstruction
Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Canstruction and a very sincere thank you to all of the teams that took part. This year’s event will result in more than 74,000 canned goods and non-perishable food items being donated to our efforts.


Cincinnati COOKS! Graduation
CONGRATULATIONS CLASS 169 of Cincinnati COOKS! We are so very proud of you!


Thank you to Smithfield and Kroger for their generous donation!
Thanks to our friends at Smithfield, in partnership with Kroger, for donating over 36,000 pounds of protein to our efforts as we work to serve hungry children and families in our community.


Welcome to Class #3 of LIFT the TriState
Welcome to Class #3 of LIFT the TriState . We wish them ten exciting weeks ahead filled with learning and lots of fun! And we look forward to following their journey as they move forward.

Volunteer Connection – May 2018

Mediaon May 1st, 2018Comments Off on Volunteer Connection – May 2018

Special Events
Summer Will Soon Be Here!
Other Ways to Help

Thank you to the following groups for your support in April 2018!
We sincerely appreciate their continued support and contribution of their time.

Mayerson Distribution Center (Tennessee Avenue)
Food Room (Customer Connection Center - Liberty Street)
Giving Fields

Treat in a Box

Mediaon May 1st, 2018Comments Off on Treat in a Box

Snowflakes pelted down silently as Tracy visited the Freestore Foodbank that December morning.  It was the day before Christmas Eve. In the back of her car was a Holiday Box from the Freestore Foodbank filled with treasured supplies for a holiday feast . Turkey, stuffing, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls of bread and apples – essentials for cooking a decent holiday meal for herself and her three children. As a single mom who worked a part-time job, Tracy was used to making do with whatever she had – always putting her children’s needs above her own, and not taking anything for granted. Luxuries were non-existent and comforts were rare in her life. If she was lucky she would be able to pick up some brownies from the discounted items at the grocery store for dessert.

Times were hard and Tracy had learned to be creative. Her concern was always to keep her children happy and healthy on a limited income and it was more about them during the holidays than about her.  Back at home, surrounded by squealing kids and a baby on her hip, she started to unpack her Holiday Box.  A colorful piece of paper at the bottom of the box caught her eye.  As she pulled it out, she realized it was a flyer from the Cincinnati Zoo.  She scanned it with little interest. Most of the time fun destinations like the zoo or the museum were out of her reach. But as she read further, she tingled with excitement. The zoo was offering a special deal! They were announcing discounts for families on SNAP.  All she needed was her ID and EBT card! She showed her children the card and told them this would be a Christmas treat. They would go to the zoo together as soon as the weather got a little warmer.

In early spring, Tracy went to the zoo with her children. “This was the best treat that anyone ever gave my kids in a long time!” Tracy declared.  “My children had never seen real giraffes or monkeys or lions and when I saw the wonder on their faces, it made me cry! I thank the Cincinnati Zoo and the Freestore Foodbank for working together to make this a reality for families on a tight budget.”

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s “Zoo Access for All” program is designed to encourage families and individuals of all backgrounds to visit the zoo and build lifelong and multi-generational memories. In addition to special offers for SNAP recipients, the Zoo has recently increased access to visitors with disabilities, as well as to those who speak languages other than English. The Zoo is partnering with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) to train a majority of its full time, seasonal and volunteer staff to better assist individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to more deeply engage at the Zoo.  A specially-designed map will be available in the coming months for guests that bring their trained service animals. “We’re off to a great start,” says Rhiannon Hoeweler, Cincinnati Zoo’s Vice President of Visitor Engagement and head of the Zoo Access for All program. “Discounted admission and memberships are available to visitors with SNAP cards, the service animal program is in place and staff members are now training with our neighbors at CCHMC.  We’re excited to make the Zoo accessible to all.”

The Freestore Foodbank greatly appreciates the Zoo’s effort to make itself more accessible to those who struggle with hunger and poverty. “We value the opportunity to partner with the Cincinnati Zoo and this is a wonderful example of how that partnership is working to benefit the families that we serve,” adds Kurt Reiber, President & CEO Freestore Foodbank.

To support the Freestore Foodbank’s efforts to end hunger and stabilize lives, go to https://bit.ly/2HP3XSL

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals

Food Fuels a University

Mediaon May 1st, 2018Comments Off on Food Fuels a University

It’s a lovely Tuesday spring morning. Dr. Jessica Taylor sits in her office dressed in jeans and a brightly colored sweater with her hair pulled tightly back in a ponytail.  She looks like an undergraduate student and for a moment it’s hard to believe she’s the Assistant Professor of Social Work, Counseling and Leadership at Northern Kentucky University. Bright pictures adorn the walls of her office and the comfortable armchairs around her desk look inviting.  On her desk is a bag of Hershey’s kisses which she proffers with enthusiasm.  “I always have chocolate with me,” she says, a warm smile lighting up her face. “It’s an icebreaker.” I settle into a comfy chair eager to learn about FUEL NKU, the food pantry founded and operated by Dr. Taylor and her colleagues, located on Northern Kentucky University’s beautiful campus.

Many years ago, on a fall morning in 2012, Dr. Taylor was teaching her usual undergraduate class on Social Welfare Policy. She looked around her classroom. She was well aware that Social Welfare Policy wasn’t necessarily the hottest topic in the world for a roomful of undergrad students. However, most of her students did seem hard at work that morning – sitting around tables, discussing the assigned readings and making notes.  Her gaze wandered to Sarah Briggs, one of her sophomore students.  Sarah sat at one of the tables, staring out of the window and seeming to have little to contribute to the activity around her.  Dr. Taylor studied Sarah with concern.  She had noticed a disturbing pattern in Sarah’s behavior lately – an inability to focus, engage or learn. Her participation level had dropped and some of her recent grades were starting to raise serious concerns.  After class, Dr. Taylor met with Sarah to inquire if everything was okay. Sarah hesitated and then reluctantly admitted that she was struggling to pay her bills and often did not have money to buy food. Hunger left her unable to participate or learn.

The painful honesty of this conversation led to almost immediate action. As a social worker, Dr. Taylor wasted no time in making sure that Sarah quickly got access to food so she could be a better student. She stocked her office with non-perishables and snacks, not just for Sarah but others like her as well. “I cleared out some book shelves,” she says, pointing to baskets on some shelves. As word got around, more students started opening up to her about their struggle to make ends meet.  “As the need grew, I was alarmed and shocked at how widespread the problem was,” Dr. Taylor admits.  She soon learned that there were other faculty members at the university who were doing the same thing.  Donations of food began to flow into the Social Work Department.  It was time to find a dedicated space for the food and in June 2012 FUEL NKU opened its doors for the very first time. “What I did was not new,” Dr. Taylor admits. “I just coordinated an effort that was already going on to make it into something concrete.”

Today the pantry is centrally located on the NKU campus. It is open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Dr. Taylor runs it with the assistance of her practicum students.  The students work on the day to day management of the pantry and also take on special projects such as setting up its website, attending special events, or helping with grant writing.

FUEL NKU recently reached out to the Freestore Foodbank for support and assistance. “Initially we were too small for the Freestore Foodbank to help us in a material way,” Taylor comments. “However, as the pantry got bigger, we needed help and guidance and we were thankful to have the support of the Freestore Foodbank.”  The Freestore Foodbank has helped to organize a fresh produce mobile pantry on campus once a month.  Students and staff from NKU pick up fresh produce from the Freestore Foodbank’s Distribution Center at Wilder, KY to distribute on campus. “We get a wonderful variety of produce from the Freestore Foodbank – lettuce, tomatoes, onions, apples, oranges and even exotic and wonderful items like bok choy sometimes,” Taylor remarks. “This is something that our students look forward to greatly.”

Hunger on college campuses is a very real issue and the Freestore Foodbank is proud to partner with educational institutions such as Northern Kentucky University to ensure that this issue is resolved. The Surge Cupboard at Cincinnati State and Food for Thought at Gateway Technical and Community College are two other partner agencies to the Freestore Foodbank.

To support our efforts to solve hunger on college campuses, go to https://bit.ly/2HP3XSL

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals

Volunteer Connection – April 2018

Mediaon April 2nd, 2018Comments Off on Volunteer Connection – April 2018

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

Together, We Can Solve Hunger!
In April, the Freestore Foodbank along with other agencies across the nation will celebrate National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, 2018.  During this week, we will honor those who inspire, recognize and encourage others to seek out imaginative ways to engage in our community.  National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change for the better.  Our volunteers are discovering and demonstrating their power to make a difference daily.  At the Freestore, we know you don’t have to wear a cape or mask, to work for justice in our world!

We want to take this opportunity to thank the over 10,000 volunteers who are making a difference in the 20 counties that we serve and in the lives of our neighbors in need.  We would not be able to make strides in solving hunger without your help!  Thank you!

The Freestore Foodbank Volunteer team is filled with everyday heroes who give their time, talents and effort on a regular basis.


All volunteers are welcome to join our team as TOGETHER, WE CAN SOLVE HUNGER! Individuals may self-register and groups may request special dates by visiting our website: freestorefoodbank.volunteerhub.com.  Email our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, Carolyn Frank at volunteer@freestorefoodbank.org or call 513-482-7550 for further assistance.

Mayerson Distribution Center
The Giving Fields
Food Room
Special Event - Coming Soon
Other Ways to Help

Thank you to the following groups for your support in March 2018!
We sincerely appreciate their continued support and contribution of their time.

Mayerson Distribution Center (Tennessee Avenue)
Food Room (Customer Connection Center - Liberty Street)
Giving Fields

Story in Pictures – April 2018

Mediaon April 2nd, 2018Comments Off on Story in Pictures – April 2018

March was productive and busy as the Freestore Foodbank gears up for a fun-filled spring and summer ahead.  The Healthy Harvest Mobile Market added a few new locations this month as a part of our efforts to improve access to fresh and healthy food in the community.  Cincinnati COOKS! graduated another fabulous class of chefs and LIFT the TriState Program also celebrated the graduation of Class #2.

Healthy Harvest Mobile Market
Freestore Foodbank’s Healthy Harvest Mobile Market opened two new sites early this month – at Price Hill, Mt. Airy and Avondale. Congratulations to our fabulous team of staff and volunteers who worked hard to make this happen.

Cincinnati COOKS! Graduation
CONGRATULATIONS to Class 168 of Cincinnati COOKS! We are so proud of you. It was an honor to have Feeding America’s CEO Matt Knott and Chief Development Officer Andy Wilson attend the graduation ceremony today in addition to spending time with us this week, touring our facility and experiencing a 5-course dinner in our kitchen.

LIFT the TriState Graduation
We celebrated the graduation of Class #2 of our LIFT the TriState Workforce Development Program. CONGRATULATIONS to the brand new graduates. Thank you to Belflex Staffing Network and Gateway Community & Technical College for their remarkable partnership and support. Special thanks to KY State Rep Diane St. Onge and Bob Porter, District Field Director for US Congressman Thomas Massie for joining us.

LIFT the TriState: A Brand New Crop of Successful Graduates

Mediaon April 2nd, 2018Comments Off on LIFT the TriState: A Brand New Crop of Successful Graduates

Jericho Rudolph is 19 years old and has a dream of becoming a vet someday. He joined LIFT the TriState because he plans to work for a few years in order to save money to go to college.  “This program has given me the skills I will need to find a job easily,” he says.  Jericho is one of the youngest in the second graduating class of LIFT the TriState. The participants come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are mostly under and unemployed adults who are looking for a chance to enter the workforce.

LIFT stands for Logistics, Inventory Management, Facilities Management and Transportation.  LIFT the TriState is a 10-week long job-training program launched by the Freestore Foodbank in partnership with Belflex Staffing and Gateway Community and Technical College.   LIFT provides hands-on warehouse and logistics training to program participants as well as assistance with soft skills, resume building, job placement, interview and job readiness training.

Upon completion of the program, graduates earn the following certifications: Forklift Operator Certificate, Certified Logistics Associate Certificate, ServeSafe Food Handling Certificate and Certificate of Completion from the LIFT the TriState program.

The first graduating class of LIFT the Tristate had a nearly 100% placement rate with many of the applicants receiving multiple job offers.  The second graduating class has 15 participants. Many of them are already working through Upshift which is an online digital platform that connects workers and employers via mobile and web applications while actively pursuing other job opportunities.  We are now taking applications for the next session of LIFT which will start on April 23, 2018. In order to apply, click here.

The Giving Fields: A Chance to Volunteer as a Family!

Mediaon April 2nd, 2018Comments Off on The Giving Fields: A Chance to Volunteer as a Family!

The Freestore Foodbank serves not only families in need, but also families who want to give back to the community as volunteers, such as Tracy and Judy Finn and their two children.

“We regularly involve our children in growing herbs in our deck garden and preparing meals. For being urban children, they love farming. Volunteering at the Giving Fields was a natural extension of that interest and a great way to expand our involvement with Freestore Foodbank as a family.”

The Giving Fields, Freestore Foodbank’s community farm provides farm-to-table produce to northern Kentucky food pantries, ensuring hungry neighbors have access to fresh, nutritious foods. The Giving Fields has two full-time staff, but depends on over 2,000 volunteers each season to plant, tend and harvest the ten acres of gardens and raised beds.

“The first time we went to volunteer for two hours and ended up staying for four! My son got really excited about the tool used to space out the pepper plants. Both of the kids enjoyed the competition – who could plant straighter and faster – as well as the opportunity to meet and interact with other volunteers.”

Each season, volunteers at the Giving Fields begin work with spring planting then continue over the summer tending the 10 acres of crops. As the tomatoes, peppers, beans and berries grow, volunteers harvest the ripe fruits and vegetables for same-day pick up by our partner pantries, giving our hungry neighbors a truly farm-to-table experience. As the season closes in autumn, volunteers are essential to making sure the farm is ready for the winter.

“We live in the city, and it’s wonderful that the Giving Fields is so close. It gives the kids a chance to see a real farm and understand the time and effort it takes to get that pepper. We want them to understand that for all the food we buy at the store, someone somewhere is doing a lot of hard work.”

Last season the Finn Family volunteered at the start of the season. This year they hope to volunteer more regularly and participate in the harvest as well.

“There are so few places where we can volunteer as a family. We are so glad we found opportunities at Freestore Foodbank for us to be together. This is a great way for our children to do something meaningful that helps impact the big mission of fighting hunger.”

Help us kick off the 2018 Giving Fields season by supporting our Help the Giving Fields Grow campaign.

Running the Race of Volunteerism

Mediaon April 2nd, 2018Comments Off on Running the Race of Volunteerism

Matthew Behrensmeyer: Running the Race of Volunteerism at the Freestore Foodbank’s Hunger Walk & 5K

Ask any runner and they’ll tell you, “When you’re in the race, it’s not always how much further you need to go that you focus on.  Sometimes, especially when you start getting tired, your focus  shifts from how many more miles you have left to just taking that next step, and the next one, and the next one, one right after another that will keep you moving forward until you make it to that finish line.”  Matthew Behrensmeyer knows that truth all too well not only as an avid runner, but also as an amazing volunteer.

Matthew is the type of guy who is always on the run in one way or another.  Going on 8 years now Mr. Behrensmeyer or Mr. B as his students affectionately call him, has been the Latin teacher at Beechwood High School teaching the young bright minds of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.  However, when he’s not in the classroom you can most likely find him out, with a pair of running shoes on, coaching the Beechwood Tiger’s cross country and track teams.  However, it was his role as the faculty advisor for Beechwood’s National Honors Society that brought Matthew and his students to the Freestore Foodbank!

“You see,” Matthew explained, “as part of the National Honors Society, students are required to do at least 10 hours of volunteer work each semester.”  It was this requirement that led Matthew to think of  the Freestore Foodbank’s annual Hunger Walk & 5K Run back in 2016.  For them, that was the first step.

Since its inception in 2004 the Freestore Foodbank’s Hunger Walk & 5K Run has helped raise more than $1,800,000 dollars (or the equivalent of 5,400,000 meals) for its community partners. The event which takes place on Memorial Day every year follows a pristine course that moves along the banks of the Ohio River through both downtown Cincinnati as well as Covington, KY by way of the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.

However, more importantly the Hunger Walk and 5K Run gives over 400 of the Freestore Foodbank’s  community partners (organizations such as food pantries, soup kitchens, childcare facilities, shelters,  community centers, etc.) an opportunity to raise money for their efforts. Last year alone the Hunger Walk and 5K Run raised more than $278,000 for these organizations and this year it’s expected to be even more!

“It’s really made an impact,” Matthew shares. “Not just in all of the support it’s given to these different groups, but also in how it’s impacted our students directly.”  Matthew’s students have really come to enjoy volunteering at the Hunger Walk each year.  This year will mark Beechwood’s students’ third year volunteering at the Hunger Walk and for many of them the excitement is already building.  “In the past we’ve had students volunteer at the water stops or as course guides, but mainly they’re there to just cheer people on,” Matthew adds. “And they really go all out with it too!”

“Usually, during the race, at water stops, we’ve got students cheering folks on, ringing cowbells, music blaring, people dancing, and really just everyone having a good time!  We want it to be high energy and fun to encourage the participants who are walking/running,” Matthew says. “And it does just that!”

Matthew, who actually runs in the Hunger Walk 5K each year himself (in fact, he was the overall men’s first place finisher last year), says that it’s really encouraging for those who are running or walking to have those bursts of encouragement throughout the course to keep you motivated.  Speaking about himself and his students he observes, “We get to see how putting positive energy out there for everyone just makes things better!”

Through his simple act of volunteerism and his leadership, Matthew has inspired some of his students to start giving back in their own ways as well.  Some work with some of the Freestore Foodbank’s other programs. Viky is a student who decided to start volunteering at The Giving Fields, the FSFB’s fresh produce farm located in Melbourne, Kentucky. Nichole is another student who took it upon herself to organize groups to go and volunteer at our Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Operation Days in Over-the-Rhine.  Other students have been inspired to organize their own volunteer projects to help give back in their own ways. “We now have students who are doing everything from working in community gardens to making homeless kits (inspired by the Freestore Foodbank’s Power Packs) to help those in need around our community.  It’s really awesome to see these students coming up with their own ideas on ways that they can give back. A lot of this was spurred by their initial involvement with the Freestore Foodbank’s Hunger Walk!”

It truly is amazing how, just like in a race, each step in life, one after another, can lead you further and further down its course and at every turn you can make a choice to help others and inspire goodness in others. For Matthew Behrensmeyer and the students at Beechwood High School this has been the case.

Whether you register as a Hunger Walk participant, donate to the cause or show up to volunteer on race day, it will all help support the Freestore Foodbank’s network of over 400 partner food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and community centers.

To register for this year’s Hunger Walk & 5K Run check out http://cincinnatihungerwalk.org/2018/, or if volunteering on race day is more your speed please email our Volunteer Services Department at volunteer@freestorefoodbank.org or call (513) 482-7550 to sign up.  Together let’s win the race against hunger!

Volunteering Makes You Belong!

Mediaon April 2nd, 2018Comments Off on Volunteering Makes You Belong!

Tim Warton sometimes forgets to make time to eat lunch because he gets absorbed in his work. “I love the Freestore Foodbank and look forward to spending time here with the team,’ he says. Tim sits at the check-out counter in the Food Room at the Customer Connection Center.  He works in the Food Room for eight days a month and loves being able to help people.

Tim was a chef many years ago. He loved his job.  Working in a restaurant meant long hours on his feet. He struggled with back issues for a long time until in 2009 his back gave out altogether and he was forced to stop work.  Struggling to make ends meet, Tim applied for food stamps. He started volunteering at the Freestore Foodbank because he wanted to meet the work requirements for SNAP. However, he started enjoying the experience so much that he found himself volunteering whenever he could spare the time. “During the holidays I help out at the front desk and I absolutely love it. It is the best way for me to meet new people and wish them a Happy Holiday,” he says.

During the year, Tim does everything from loading trucks to getting meat out of the freezer. “I truly believe that our primary duty is to make the world a better place,” he says. “Volunteering gives me a chance to give back and to lend a helping hand to someone else who is struggling. And I enjoy being able to help others more than anything else in the world.”

Tim is grateful to the Freestore Foodbank for the opportunity to serve.  ‘The Freestore Foodbank has given me a feeling of belonging,” he says. Tim encourages anyone who is interested in giving back to start by making a commitment to volunteer at least once a month. He feels that it is a most gratifying experience and one that makes the world a better place for everyone.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Freestore Foodbank, click here.

Volunteer Connection – April 2018