Feed the Hungry program expands to Springfield, delivers holiday meals

Operation Feed the Hungry delivered 100 hams and 150 turkeys on Wednesday morning in Springfield for local families in need — just in time for Christmas dinner.

This is the eighth year Buckeye Health Plan has donated food to Ohio families but the first year that it brought its holiday program Springfield.

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“We’re always trying to add on more cities as we grow,” said Anisa Ballard, spokeswoman for the Ohio health-care organization. “They felt like Springfield is one of the cities that’s growing in this area.”

Buckeye Health Plan started Operation Feed the Hungry in 2010, when the organization delivered hams to a handful of Akron agencies the week before Christmas. Over the past seven years, the program has grown to include 12 cities and, this week, has donated more than 4,500 hams and turkeys to 126 community agencies.

On Wednesday they delivered the food to St. John Missionary Baptist Church, and then distributed it into trucks and vans of local service groups.

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Tyra Jackson, executive director for the Second Harvest Food Bank, which provides about 5 million to 6 million pounds of food a year for Clark, Champaign and Logan counties, said she’s grateful Springfield was included in this year’s donation. Several agencies partnered with Second Harvest were among the eight local groups that received the donations.

“We can always use additional resources in our community,” Jackson said. “We have over 20,000 people in the Clark County community alone who wonder where their next meal is coming from.”

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Almost 16 percent of Clark County’s residents experience food insecurity, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2017 study.

Though many people worry about providing toys for families during the holiday season, Jackson said putting a ham or turkey on a family’s holiday table can be just as meaningful.

“It’s not just a meal,” Jackson said. “It’s preparing it, the conversations, the memories that you build over the cooking and the eating and the preparation — it’s wonderful.”

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