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The Suburbanite
  • Food bank wins national award

  • The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, which recently was named the 2012 Member of the Year at the annual Feeding America Network Summit in Detroit.

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  • Borrowing a slogan used by the Feeding America network, hunger is closer than you think. So is the solution.
    In this case, among those working on a solution are Dan Flowers and the staff at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, which recently was named the 2012 Member of the Year at the annual Feeding America Network Summit in Detroit.
    It’s the highest honor given annually to the year’s most outstanding agency among the 202 food banks in the national Feeding America network.
    “I’m elated,” said Flowers, president and chief executive officer for the bank which distributes up to 100,000 pounds of food daily to member agencies in Stark, Carroll, Homes, Medina, Portage, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties.
    “This is a real matter of community pride,” he said. “Receiving the award is fantastic for the community.”
    He said that to receive a distinction in a nonprofit sector like the one the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank received is an “amazing honor. I am nothing but a food banker, so for me, it is back to work. When I returned home from the convention, my wife immediately had an ego intervention and had me go out and clean up after the dog.”
    Really, he said, “this honor belongs to the community. I love food-banking, but from the board to the volunteers, we have rallied the best practices and the best efforts around our passion and our commitment to serving people. When you tie the head and the heart together, you end up getting great results.”
    FOOD BANK HISTORY
    In 1980, a group of hunger centers and other groups met to discuss ways to meet the needs of the increasing number of families requesting food assistance in Akron and surrounding communities. The Akron Area Food Coalition was founded with a goal of establishing a food bank in Akron.  In 1982 the Akron Area Foodbanc — the different spelling was required by the state to distinguish the food bank from a financial bank — was formed as a 501(c)3 charitable organization and began distributing food from a community storage center.
    The agency grew during the next decade. The name later was changed to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to reflect the eight-county service area. A larger facility was purchased and the Foodbank became a certified member of the national affiliate Second Harvest, the National Foodbank Network, now known as Feeding America.  
    In October 2007, the Foodbank moved into a 85,000 square foot site, allowed it to increase distribution by more than 60 percent.
     JUDGING
    Among the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s accomplishments this past year, it increased its distribution to 19.4 million pounds of food and targeted its outreach in priority counties; cultivated new donors and balanced fundraising strategies, resulting in a 100 percent increase in funds raised in the past two years; and created a new Feeding Kids Initiative to help the one in four children suffering from hunger.