Helping the hungry

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    At four upcoming performances, the Toledo Symphony will collect food for the Martin Luther King Kitchen for the Poor on Vance Street.

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  • There are, sadly, too many hungry people in Toledo.

    Every fall, there’s a big push — and a tremendous demonstration of generosity — as contributions of food and donations of money pour in for holiday meals. No one wants to think of families unable to celebrate with turkeys and all the trimmings.

    But what happens after the holidays when there are no festive meals to consider, when the shopping season bills start to come in and money is tight?

    Donations inevitably go down. But so very many people still need food.

    That’s why March offers two special opportunities to help the hungry.

    Food for Thought is hosting its annual March is Hungry campaign, inviting anyone and everyone to throw a party for a good cause.

    Get together with your family members, friends, co-workers, book club members, trivia team, bowling league, knitting group, neighbors, or anyone else you can think of. The menu can be anything from a casual potluck to a formal dinner, a beer or wine tasting with accompanying treats, or even a buffet of various peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Food for Thought holds weekly Friday night pb&j-making sessions and then distributes the sandwiches to those in need downtown on Saturday mornings.)

    In addition to the sandwiches, the organization brings mobile food pantries to a variety of locations throughout the area. It allows customers the dignity of choosing their own groceries, rather than having a bag of pre-selected items handed to them; and area farms generously supply fresh produce.

    In 2016, Food for Thought served 3,500 households: 1,750 seniors, 4,000 adults, and 3,000 children. More than 15,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were given to those in need.

    Take the time at your party to explain the purpose of the event to your guests while collecting monetary donations to help keep our fellow Toledoans fed. The goal for the March is Hungry fund-raiser is $10,000, which can help to feed 1,600 families.

    To sign up for hosting an event, go to or contact Laura Shaffer at or 419-972-0022. For more information about supporting Food for Thought, go to

    The Toledo Symphony also recognizes the need that rises in March and is joining with the League of American Orchestras in the Orchestras Feeding America campaign.

    At four upcoming performances, the symphony will collect food for the Martin Luther King Kitchen for the Poor, which serves hot lunches each weekday as well as providing supplemental groceries to anyone in need. The kitchen served nearly 33,000 meals last year to some of the city’s poorest people; the average income of its clients is $5,000 per year.

    Bins will be available to collect non-perishable items at each of these concerts: Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Stranahan Theater; the TSO with the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras Side-by-Side concert, 4 p.m. Sunday, and Mahler’s Fourth, 8 p.m. March 17 and 18, all at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle; and Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart, 7:30 p.m. March 25 at the Franciscan Center of Lourdes University.

    In addition to bringing foods — nutritious items such as canned fish, meats, and vegetables, as well as pasta and rice, are encouraged — paper products (toilet paper and towels) are also welcome.

    For more information about the food collection, call the symphony at 419-246-8000. To learn more about supporting the Martin Luther King Kitchen for the Poor, go to or call 419-241-2596.

    March is a hungry month for many people in this area.

    Please do whatever you can to help alleviate that.

    Contact Mary Bilyeu at
 or 419-724-6155 or on Twitter @BladeFoodPage.