Round Up Hunger campaign returns to Walt Churchill’s MarketWritten by Morgan Delp | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After last year’s Round Up Hunger campaign raised $5,975 for Feed Lucas County Children (FLCC), Executive Director of FLCC Tony Siebeneck is excited to see its return and hopefully, growth.
“I think we’re going to see more funds raised because the public is getting more informed on the child hunger issue,” Siebeneck said.
The campaign will occur over over a two week period, July 1-14. During this time, customers at both of Walt Churchill’s Market locations (3320 Briarfield Blvd. in Maumee and 26625 Dixie Highway in Perrysburg) will be asked if they want to “round up” their total purchase amount to the next whole dollar, with the difference going to help FLCC build their new community kitchen.
Columbia Gas of Ohio, Toledo Free Press and Walt Churchill’s Market partnered to sponsor this campaign.
“It gives everyone the chance to feel like they’re making a difference. Even if it’s a small amount out of someone’s budget, when we put it together, it can make a difference,” said Chris Kozak, communications manager at Columbia Gas.
Kunal Dawar, assistant store manager and grocery director at Walt Churchill’s Market in Maumee said that last year, one customer donated $50.
“You can definitely give more if you so choose,” Dawar said.
FLCC aims to feed children that live below the poverty line in Lucas County by serving free, nutritious meals at various community locations throughout the day. FLCC serves the community all year long, but its busiest time of the year is summer. Since 2002, the organization has fed more than 700,000 children 18 and younger. This summer, FLCC is serving from over 80 countywide locations.
“I was so impressed with what [Tony] does, and the impact he has on the lives of children across Lucas County. It’s inspiring to see someone do something that has that impact. We’re honored to be a part of the program,” Kozak said.
FLCC had made such an impact on the area that the organization was recently called upon to speak to the state Senate on child summer hunger.
“I did a conference call when the Senate was in session because they wanted a real understanding of the summer hunger issue and they were impressed by the Lucas County program,” Siebeneck said. “Out of the  counties in Ohio, about 10 have no food program in place during the summer for kids.”
Siebeneck said that with the creation of the organization’s new community kitchen, where all the meals are prepared and distributed, FLCC could possibly be the first county in Ohio to end summer hunger. Twenty-four thousand kids live at or below the poverty line in Lucas County, and this kitchen would be able to feed 20,000 children a day, Siebeneck said.
“We already have the building (for the new kitchen) identified,” Siebeneck said. “Right now we just need every living soul to re-direct their philanthropy to this kitchen, just for one year. It will give back for decades down the road.”
The new kitchen will continue to provide healthy, FDA-approved meals, Siebeneck said.
“When the Ohio Department of Education released higher standards (for school meals) in January and February, we were already meeting or exceeding 95 percent of the standards,” Siebeneck said.
On any given day in June, the number of meals delivered may be 3,400, but it drastically increases to about 6,000 in July, for no identified reason, Siebeneck said.
He said the organization has outgrown its Downtown rented space in the old Macomber High School building on Monroe Street. Siebeneck said they will keep their old equipment and purchase some new, bigger machines, along with two more prep tables and two unloading docks for semi trucks. The approximately 200 volunteers that FLCC uses will remain the same, Siebeneck said.
The Perrysburg location of Walt Churchill’s Market is in Wood County, which will soon be receiving assistance from FLCC.
“Next year we already know we’re going to be feeding kids in Wood County, south of Rossford,” Siebeneck said. “The percentage of kids eligible for reduced and free lunches is climbing in Perrysburg and Wood County schools. We have already had two groups contact us, so we will be feeding kids there next summer. So the campaign will benefit Wood County as much as Lucas.”
Siebeneck said hunger doesn’t have any boundaries.
“Even if we take other communities like Sylvania, Maumee, Oregon, the number of kids falling into the category (of poverty) each year is increasing,” Siebeneck said.
Siebeneck said by supplying food to be served at area community organizations such as churches, schools and other centers, FLCC is providing the foundation for them to grow and increase its visibility in the community.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Siebeneck said.