Money local residents paid to fill up on ice cream a couple weeks ago will be used to help area residents get the food they need and eat more nutritiously.
The 30th annual Broughton Ice Cream Social on July 21 raised approximately $14,588.67, according to Rick Stafford, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Peoples Bank. That money will go to Hunger Solutions for the Mid-Ohio Valley, the 501(c)3 nonprofit entity created by a task force formed by Peoples Bank, the Memorial Health System and Marietta College.
"The turnout (of the social) surpassed our expectations," Stafford said. "It's just really the community coming together for a phenomenal cause."
The annual social has raised more than $460,000 for nearly 40 organizations in its 30 years of existence. This year's event, held at the Washington County Fairgrounds, drew thousands of people, Stafford said.
The Hunger Solutions initiative came together last year as the bank, the health system and the college looked at the biggest challenges facing the community, Stafford said.
"Hunger and nutrition came right to the top of the list," he said.
One initiative of the program is Live Healthy Kids, which sends food educators into second-grade classrooms to teach them about proper nutrition. Live Healthy Kids was piloted in Marietta City Schools this year, and some of the proceeds from the social will be used to extend it to St. Mary School in Marietta, Wood County Christian and Williamstown Elementary, according to Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing and public relations for the Memorial Health System.
"Our goal is to expand that throughout Washington and eventually Wood County," Stafford said.
A portion of the proceeds will also be used to lay the foundation for a purchasing program for food pantries through the Southeast Ohio Food Bank, which serves 10 counties in the region. The funding would allow the organization to purchase a wider variety of foods from more sources than usual, said Tracy Galway, director of the Southeast Ohio Food Bank and Kitchen.
"Most of what we get is donated or funded through government programs," she said.
The resulting discount for participating pantries would be 5 to 25 percent or more below retail costs, Stafford said. The program would benefit any pantry served by the food bank, and Galway said buying for more pantries means the cost comes down for all of them.
That would be a benefit to entities like the Marietta Community Food Pantry, said that pantry's director, Bill Farnsworth.
"Our contributions tend to be pretty flat for many months of the year," he said. "Probably between 85 to 90 percent of our funding comes from community contributions."
Stafford said the money from the social and additional community contributions will get the program off the ground. The goal is then for the purchases and regular donations to keep it going.