Freestore Foodbank helps more than 15,000 with holiday meals

CINCINNATI - More than 15,000 people in Greater Cincinnati will have a holiday meal to eat thanks to the free food distribution conducted this week by the Freestore Foodbank.

The Freestore distributed food to needy families and individuals Wednesday-Friday from its location on East Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine.

In all, meals were given to 5,704 families, for a total of 15,128 people.

During the 2012 holiday season – which includes the Thanksgiving food distribution and the December holiday food distribution – the Freestore Foodbank served 14,242 families – or 40,652 people -- in need throughout the Tri-State.

Every dollar donated to the Freestore provides about four meals, a spokesperson said.

Frank Gerson, a worker at Cincinnati's city dump who collected discarded items to help the needy, founded the Freestore in 1971. Since then, it has grown to become one of Ohio's largest food banks.

The Freestore provides food to about 450 pantries in a 20-county area, ranging from rural Indiana to Portsmouth, Ohio.

Facilities that receive the food include pantries operated by churches, battered women's shelters and group homes.

Anyone interested in making a donation can visit or call (513) 482-FOOD (3663).

Overall, the Freestore serves about 250,000 people each year, including roughly 110,000 in Hamilton County. About 40,000 people visit the Liberty Street facility for emergency food assistance annually.

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