United Way of Pickaway County recently handed over its community initiative Pickaway H.U.G. (Hunger United Group) to become an official program of PICCA.
“That’s the true desired outcome of one of our initiatives,” said Michele Lanman, executive director of United Way of Pickaway County. “We identify a need in our community, unite the necessary resources to address that need, and then work together to make a difference in that area.”
“PICCA is excited to take on this new opportunity to provide fresh produce throughout the county,” said Andrew Binegar, executive director of PICCA. “It is very exciting to see a project started by a conversation and see it grow into a community initiative and then to become an actual program of PICCA. It is truly extraordinary. It wouldn’t have happened if not for the United Way of Pickaway County and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.”
In early 2014, the United Way of Pickaway County, in partnership with Mid-Ohio Food Bank, hosted a series of six meetings called Hunger Conversations. Representatives came from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Pickaway County social service providers, local businesses, public health and government offices with a goal of better understanding food insecurity in the county, identify barriers and gaps, and develop actions to end hunger together.
It also determined a mission statement – “Ending hunger in Pickaway County means everyone is able to access fresh and healthy foods without judgment or barriers and that all of our lives are improved and strengthened so we each realize our full potential.”
In addition, top actions emerged, included developing a service directory, improving access and alternative services to food, creating a county-wide client survey, and creating a united front…Pickaway Hunger United Group – H.U.G. Working with a number of local leaders, Pickaway H.U.G. brings awareness to our community’s issue with hunger.
The long-term goals are simple: to increase availability of food; to alleviate duplicate services; and to provide value-added services. Pickaway H.U.G.’s first major project kicked off in July 2016 with the distribution of fresh produce. Mid-Ohio Foodbank makes deliveries to a facility located at PICCA the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Produce is then divided for pickup by food pantries located throughout the county. These pantries in turn distribute the produce to its clients.
Thus far in 2017, the fresh produce distribution served 977 households – or 5,483 people. Additionally, Produce Prescriptions obtained through Primary One are being filled.
“Along with the programs in which we invest, PICCA and United Way have partnered in multiple initiatives the past few years,” Lanman said. “Those partnerships show the commitment and dedication of the PICCA staff in making Pickaway County a better place to live and work. I have no doubt it will find other avenues to expand Pickaway H.U.G., thus even furthering the positive difference it makes in our community.”
With its mission of uniting resources, uniting people and focusing on our local needs to build a stronger community, the United Way of Pickaway County Inc. (UWPC) serves three main functions in the community – fundraiser, funder and community partner. Last year, the organization raised funds in excess of $175,000 and then reinvested those monies in 19 programs offering services throughout Pickaway County.
Furthermore, it leads and collaborates in multiple initiatives such as Pickaway H.U.G. to reinforce its vision of being a vital partner and collaborator within our community. These initiatives demonstrate measurable outcomes with long-term community impacts that will make a difference in the lives of local residents.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal