Food Drive Addresses Growing Need

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Hiba Ali

The district used boxes placed outside the middle school to collect donations for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

In an effort to help feed an increasing number of hungry families in Cuyahoga County, Beachwood Schools joined University Hospitals’ Ahuja Medical Center to collect donations for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank from Dec. 1 to 15. 

The partnership filled an ambulance and several carloads with food contributions as well as over $26,000 in cash donations.

Hunger in greater Cleveland has skyrocketed in the past year. The Food Bank serves families each week in downtown Cleveland.

“The line started forming early this morning for distribution that started at 1:00 in the afternoon,” Cleveland Food Bank CEO Kristen Warzocha told Channel 19 News on Dec. 30. 

They served 5,000 families the week before Thanksgiving.

“16.5% of this six county area population is food insecure,” according to the Food Bank website.

But that statistic is from 2017. Demand from hungry families has increased 30 percent in 2020, according to Cleveland.com. 

Earlier in the year Beachwood’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction Linda LoGalbo was approached by community outreach nurse Colletta Somrack of University Hospitals’ Ahuja Medical Center. LoGalbo had worked with Ahuja before in coordinating the district’s medical academy.

I think that the Beachwood community is very generous. Our partners at Ahuja were shocked to see the large amount of food we collected in the short two week time frame, and they were just really really pleased that our community has shown up to support those in need. Beachwood has always been a very caring community.”

— Director of Curriculum and Instruction Linda LoGalbo

Somrack approached LoGalbo  to request that the school district partner with University Hospitals’ “Feeding Our Communities” drive for the Food Bank.  

“I said of course… our district mission is to develop intellectual entrepreneurs with a social conscience,” LoGalbo said. “We typically do a food drive of some sort…but this year we wanted to organize one district-wide”

The initial plan was  to set up a designated drop off in each building so that students could drop off the donations as they went to school. However, after Thanksgiving break, the district  went remote, so the district utilized the drive through at the middle school as a no contact drop-off. .

LoGalbo explained that many staff members helped in the effort. Technology teachers Craig  Alexander and Chris Croftcheck made the signs, the building principals were also key in organizing and collecting donations for the drive, and Supervisor of Facilities and Grounds Brian Koss recruited custodians to help. Custodians helped by emptying the donation box outside of the middle school every day and storing the donations.

The food has been delivered to the Food Bank, which will distribute the food to local pantries.

LoGalbo hopes that the district will be able to continue this campaign in the future.

“Food banks usually see the biggest donation surge around the holiday time,” LoGalbo said.“I would imagine maybe in the spring we’d partener again with Ahuja to continue it because what happens is that food banks suddenly deplete their sources.” 

There is also a link set up by Ahuja for people to donate money. Each $1 donation can provide four meals.

“I think that the Beachwood community is very generous,” LoGalbo said. “Our partners at Ahuja were shocked to see the large amount of food we collected in the short two week time frame, and they were just really really pleased that our community has shown up to support those in need. Beachwood has always been a very caring community.” 

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