The ninth-annual Help the Hungry Outreach will be held this Saturday at Liberty Park, where more than 80,000 pounds of food will be distributed to at least 1,200 families.
Bill Bowman, pastor of New Life Church and Ministries, organizes the annual event.
Bowman has said families come from eight or nine surrounding counties. In Highland County alone, about 25 percent of families continue to get food once a week from a pantry – about 10,000 people a week, said Bowman.
“A lot of people are hungry in southern Ohio,” said Bowman after a previous event. Bowman said some families are on site as early as 9 a.m., several hours before distribution begins.
Bowman asks that volunteers be at Liberty Park by 9 a.m. A music program begins at noon, including a gospel message. Food distribution begins at 3 p.m.
Bowman said Walmart and Kroger are two main supporters of the event, and he also thanked Five Points Implement, Merchants National Bank and Dr. Lesia Langston for their support of the outreach.
After the event was held at a different location, Bowman asked city council last year for permission to return to Liberty Park. He said the event typically includes local politicians and other high-profile people participating in the giveaway to “give a face to the poverty” that still exists across the region.
Bowman told council last year there have been “absolutely no incidents” at the park during the event. He said he makes sure that people who come to the event are not using drugs or alcohol. “We don’t put up with it,” he said.
Bowman said the donors, volunteers and area food banks all contribute to the event’s success. But each year he says, “The glory goes to God. He gets the praise.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.