AKRON The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and Community Harvest, a food rescue organization, are merging into one organization with a greater capacity of serving those struggling with hunger in Stark County. The boards of both nonprofits have signed letters of intent and expect the merger to take effect Jan. 1.
The merger will expand the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s abilities to reach further into the Stark County community served by Community Harvest’s food rescue program. Food rescue is the process of safely recovering a surplus food from the supply chain and distributing it to people in need. Not only does food rescue help ensure that millions of Americans have access to quality meals, it is also key to helping combat food waste.
"The Foodbank and Community Harvest share the same goal, so formally teaming up is a natural step," said Dan Flowers, president & CEO of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, in a news release. "While the Foodbank’s operations won’t change, we’re confident this merger will drive efficiencies while creating new energy and innovation centered on unique ways of solving hunger in our community."
Community Harvest was one of the first nonprofit groups in the country to establish an innovative food rescue program. Community Harvest collects excess prepared and perishable food and donates it to community groups that serve families struggling with hunger. This simple concept that began with a goal of preventing food waste while helping hungry people has evolved into a collaboration of numerous resources and agencies dedicated to providing more than 80,000 meals a month for those in need in Stark County.
"Community Harvest is tremendously grateful for the Foodbank’s and our community’s support through the years," said Faith Barbato, executive director of Community Harvest, in a news release. "We think daily about the one in four children in our community who live in households that experience hunger. By joining forces, our combined organization will provide more food than ever before. Together, our programs at Community Harvest will continue as before, but as part of the incredible work of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank."
Grant funding received from the W. Henry Hoover Fund at Stark Community Foundation, The Paul & Carol David Foundation, and Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton will support the implementation of the merger. The grant was awarded as a result of the Stark Community Foundation’s Future of Food Security county assessment and future framework for change in a second round of funding to address food security.