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Taste of Pro Football Hall of Fame returns to help fight against hunger

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank says almost 14% of the people in Summit County are food insecure.
Akron - Canton Regional Foodbank
Posted at 5:58 PM, Sep 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 15:39:31-04

CANTON, Ohio — Inflation is making it harder for people to feed their families, with hunger continuing to be prevalent across many communities.

“I don’t get the fish at the store. Like salmon is so expensive. I can’t do salmon,” said Navarre resident Peggy Brady.

“I’ve been trying to stretch things out a lot,” said Massillon resident, Robert Heidy.

The Akron – Canton Regional Foodbank says almost 14% of the people in Summit County are food insecure.

In Medina County, the food insecurity rate sits at about 10%, and it’s more than 14% in Tuscarawas County.

“We’ve been having an increased number of people that have been coming into the pantry at the Akron – Canton Regional Foodbank this year. Inflation has caused a lot of those increases,” said President and CEO Dan Flowers.

READ MORE: Akron Canton Foodbank and clients feel inflation pressure

Flowers says 20% of their families are visiting the Foodbank's hunger-relief network for the first time.

The food bank also says their weekly pantry demand is up to at least 500 families, with that number growing and causing some strain because of supply chain issues.

“As a result of getting fewer food donations from food companies, we’ve bought more food than we’ve ever had to buy,” said Flowers.

When looking back at the pandemic, Flowers says they don’t have as much food now as they did then, resulting in smaller portions.

Flowers says that’s why fundraisers like their 15th Annual Taste of the Pro Football Hall of Fame are important to support people like Scott Ritchey.

“I was working a regular 40-hour shift. I would get my paycheck every two weeks and a day and a half I’d be broke cause of all the bills,” said Ritchey.

Ritchey works 100 hours a week as a caregiver and says the money he makes still is not enough to support him, his wife and pets.

Flowers says more than ever, the food bank needs support from the community.

“It’s our fundraisers. It’s the checks people have sent us in the mail throughout the pandemic that have kept us alive during this most difficult time that I can remember,” said Flowers.

The goal of the 15th Annual Taste of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is to help raise money for the Akron – Canton Regional Foodbank, while also giving the community something fun to do.

“We can be creative. We can come up with creative ideas, not only to help ourselves but help our neighbors,” said 2020 Hall of Fame Inductee Isaac Bruce.

Flowers says they now offer a sit-down meal versus a strolling food tasting event because several restaurants once supporting this annual event went out of business during the pandemic.

While Flowers says it does limit the number of people who can come, he says they still managed to sell out at Tuesday evening’s event.

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