Valley Food Relief: ‘Look at your fellow man and think about him’

Barbara Wright sees possibilities in the can of chicken she gets from The Foodbank each month.

“With this chicken,” she said, “you can do just about anything.”

Chicken noodle soup? Check. Chicken pot pie? Her neighbor makes the best. And for the Christmas pot-luck with her neighbors at the Covenant Manor apartments?

“I’m making my famous chicken fried rice,” she said with pride.

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On the third Friday of each month, the 73-year-old is in charge of “making sure that everybody gets a box that is supposed to get a box,” meaning a federally funded, 32-pound container of food. Wright ensures her neighbors who don’t receive the box — restricted to those 60 and older near the nation’s poverty guidelines — aren’t left behind by making sure The Foodbank leaves enough food for them, too.

“You have to look at your fellow man and think about him, not just about self,” Wright said. “This is the season for giving and loving. God put us here to be brothers and sisters on this earth.”

What the government and other resources don’t cover, the Valley Food Relief Campaign does.

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In its 34th year, the partnership between the Dayton Daily News and The Foodbank provides half the pantry’s wholesale budget. The proceeds help The Foodbank serve more than 100 nonprofit agencies operating feeding programs in Montgomery, Greene and Preble counties.

This Christmas, donations are significantly down and The Foodbank is looking for help.

“The people of the Miami Valley have always stepped up in times of need, from our large presence of military families willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to the can-do attitude of our entrepreneurs investing to create jobs and growth in our economy,” said Rob Rohr, the newspaper’s publisher and Cox Media Group Ohio market vice president.

“I am always proud of what our community can accomplish when we understand the needs,” Rohr said. “And today, we need to make sure that our local families and the children that will create a bright future for our region have the vital food they need to grow, stay healthy and thrive right here at home.”

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The numbers reveal the decline: Last year in mid-December, the Valley Food Relief Campaign raised enough money for about 452,000 meals. By the same time this year, donations were enough to cover about 371,000 meals.

The national outpouring of support after the devastating hurricane season has put a squeeze on the annual food campaign, said Lora Davenport, The Foodbank’s spokeswoman.

The Foodbank responded this year to areas hard hit by hurricanes. The organization sent six semi-trucks of water and supplies to Texas after Hurricane Harvey, and another five semi-trucks of water and supplies to Florida after Hurricane Irma. Davenport was also sent to Puerto Rico to assist in relief efforts.

“There’s been a lot of focus on natural disasters, helping people who are part of the United States, but not so much locally,” Davenport said. “The thing is, hunger locally has not stopped.”

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“We want to remind everybody that hunger knows no season and to continue to support local hunger relief efforts,” Davenport said.

The last envelope drop in the Dayton Daily News print edition was last Sunday, but the campaign and need continue.

To donate to the Valley Food Relief Campaign, visit or send a check to Valley Food Relief, 56 Armor Place, Dayton, OH 45417. Donations are tax deductible.

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