The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is celebrating 40 years in service to the community this week. At both its Main Campus in Akron and Stark County Campus in Canton, staff and volunteers are reflecting on the impact made over the past four decades.

The Foodbank has served community members diligently across its eight-county footprint in its first 40 years. As the organization has grown, it’s honed an effective and efficient model to source, store and distribute surplus food. In 2021, it distributed 30 million pounds of food, the equivalent of 22.5 million meals, through 600 food programs. Since opening its doors, the Foodbank has distributed more than 560 million pounds of food to the local community.

“Forty years after our founding, the Foodbank is an agency of great depth and impact,” said Dan Flowers, Foodbank president and CEO. “Not only does the organization and its network provide critical support for families facing hunger in this region, but it serves as a beacon of hope for people during their lowest moments.”

The Foodbank provides access to millions of meals each year, but over the past few years, the organization has focused on direct service to the community and its network of hunger-relief partners. 

Through a variety of partnerships, thousands of senior citizens receive food boxes to help supplement their diets, and even more children are served through backpack and after-school programs. Its collaboration with DoorDash helps deliver food boxes to individuals with mobility issues or who are homebound, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of food are distributed directly to community members at grocery distributions at both campus locations.

The Stark County Campus houses its own food pantry and resource center, helping connect families with food and other wraparound support services. New, innovative partnerships with local health systems have connected patients to nourishing food, and to reach rural communities, the Foodbank’s mobile pop-up pantry visits neighborhoods with limited food resources. The Foodbank delivers food orders directly to hunger-relief partners to help save fuel costs, wear-and-tear on vehicles, and staff and volunteer time, and more than $4 million was invested in its hunger-relief network in 2021.

“I think we all wonder at times what our lives are about, what our purpose is. Hopefully, the thousands of people who have poured love upon this Foodbank will see a meaningful legacy reflected in this milestone,” said Flowers. “Their help has mattered not just to the Foodbank, but to millions of people over the decades. We sincerely thank all who have supported the mission of this organization.”