Excellence in Leadership Award, Organization
Chicks Against Hunger
High unemployment is one of the key drivers of food insecurity in the United States, a fact that founder, Kim McDonald discovered in 2010, after losing her position due to the recession and company restructuring. She found out personally how easily this could happen and how very close to home. During her job search and interactions with local businesses, Kim quickly learned that she was not alone and that unemployment and under employment were real problems in Lorain County, affecting many families, children and senior citizens.
Feeling the need to help make a difference, because she truly understood how it felt, she decided to hold a food drive, but recognized that she could not do it alone. Enlisting the immediate aid of two of her closest friends, Sherry Lunt and Annmarie Nyikes, they began to plan. The first food drive was held on August 15, 2010, and collected 2,174 pounds of food – over one ton! Thus Chicks Against Hunger was born. The organization has grown, both in number of Chicks and in pounds of food collected for those in need. In 2011 six events were held and 5,108 pounds of food were collected. In 2012, seven events were held; 6,420 pounds of food were collected, plus the addition of three new members to the group. 2013 brought six events, 7,497 pounds of food and four more Chicks, bringing the total for the group to 10. In 2014, three events were held, bringing in 6,028 pounds of food. Currently consisting of nine “Chicks,” they have collected over 35,000 pounds of food this year. All food that is collected is given directly to local food pantries to stock their shelves and supply immediate assistance for clients in need. Some beneficiaries include: St. Mary’s Choice Food Pantry, Elyria Hospitality Center, and Family Promise of Lorain County.
Collaborating with local businesses that share a passion for our community has been critical to the great success of Chicks Against Hunger. Collaborations, such as the annual Girls Night Out at Smitty’s in Elyria have grown exponentially since they began in 2012. Other partnerships include French Creek Family YMCA, Vandemark Jewelers, Hecks Café –Avon, WEOL AM930, and 2 Bucks Avon, and several area High Schools. Partnering with the students gives them a better understanding of the need here in Lorain County and has led some of the students to start their own food drives.
The need for food assistance goes beyond what federal programs offer. The charitable food assistance network strives to meet this unmet need. Chicks Against Hunger, along with their generous donors, and business partners continue to bridge this gap in Lorain County.