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Woman assembles team to distribute 70,000 meals for Cleveland families in need

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Posted at 5:39 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 18:23:15-05

CLEVELAND — We've seen the long lines snaking through the Muni Lot, as so many of our neighbors in need are turning to the Cleveland Food Bank during this pandemic.

However, for those lacking transportation or physically unable to leave their homes, accessing that assistance is challenging.

One woman is helping families that find themselves falling through the cracks, as she continues her mission to make Northeast Ohio a better land.

“My mom was murdered when I was six years old, and I promised that I would use my life to help change the lives of others,” said Yvonka Hall.

Decades later, Hall is just as passionate about that promise.

“This has been a labor of love,” said Hall.

Hall is using her organization Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition to get healthy food into the hands of dozens of families in Cleveland.

“There’s so many that live in food deserts, that don’t have transportation, that are unable to get healthy foods,” said LaVonne Williams.

Once a month, volunteers like Williams drive down Hall's driveway to pick-up a month's worth of food that's distributed to 50 families.

“My soul feeds off of being able to help others in need,” said Williams.

Hall said it costs about $10,000 a month to keep the program up and running.

What’s truly amazing about the outreach is it’s truly a community effort.

With no major funding, Hall relies on donations.

Whether it’s cash or a carton of eggs that people can put in a fridge she has outside on her back porch.

Since the start of the pandemic, Hall and her team of volunteers have delivered 70,000 meals.

“Grateful people. That’s what makes it fun to do. It’s really nice to see how happy they are,” said Dell Salza, volunteer.

While there are volunteers like Salza who live just down the street in Shaker Heights, others have shown up to help from as far away as Youngstown and Akron/Canton.

“This isn’t just something that was around Cleveland, this was Northeast Ohio,” said Hall.

In addition to those important kitchen staples, families also have access to health care necessities.

“Dishwashing liquid, body soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, and toothpaste,” said Hall.

With no end to the pandemic in sight, Hall is staying the course – committed to making sure no family goes without.

“We’re going to continue to do this to make sure that we carry people through. We’re doing everything that we can to make sure that our children in the city of Cleveland have a better life, a better today for a greater tomorrow,” said Hall.