YOUNGSTOWN — Because Valley State Farm insurance agents donated $15,000 Monday to Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley, 90,000 meals will be provided across the Mahoning Valley.
Jan Cefalu, a State Farm agent in Poland, organized 15 agents from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties to each donate $500 to the food bank. The agents' $7,500 was matched by the State Farm Companies Foundation Matching Gift Program for a total of $15,000.
“Our communities are hurting right now, and our obligation is to step in and help our neighbors,” Celfau said in a statement. “Supporting the good work of Second Harvest Food Bank will go a long way toward helping our community get back on its feet.”
Steven Jones, a State Farm agent in Youngstown, said it’s important for State Farm to support local communities. The food bank was chosen because so many Valley people are struggling to feed their families due to the pandemic, he said.
“I think people from Youngstown or affiliated with Youngstown ... when these situations arise, we step in and do our part,” Jones said.
Renee Fuller, director of development at Second Harvest Food Bank, said the donation will provide 90,000 meals to people across the three counties.
“It’s a big help, especially right now,” Fuller said. “It’s been very tough over the last year.”
In 2019, the food bank distributed 11.5 million pounds of food, which was a record at the time. In 2020, over 15.1 million pounds of food were distributed, which is the new annual record for the food bank.
Fuller said the COVID-19 pandemic caused many hardships for families with unemployment, working fewer hours and remote learning in schools.
Second Harvest Food Bank receives about 16,000 requests for food each week across all three counties. During the height of the pandemic last year, the food bank was getting about 21,000 requests each week. The normal amounts of requests in the past have ranged from 11,000 to 13,000 requests each week.
She said it’s going to take some time for people to rebound from the effects of the pandemic.
“We’re looking at this year being probably as important to everyone as last year was in getting food out as much as possible to as many as possible,” Fuller said.
The 15 agents who contributed to the $15,000 donation include:
- Jan Cefalu, Poland
- Tom Danko, Canfield
- Carrie Ratliff, Poland
- Jamie Blott, Austintown
- Jim Leugers, Cornersburg
- Renee Knepper, East Liverpool
- Brandon Miller, Niles
- Scott Seiple, Girard
- Dan Sabol, Columbiana
- Tania Howell, Champion
- Rob Donahue, Warren
- Gina McQuillan, Salem
- Bridgett Cutlip, Salem
- Derek Knepper, Howland
- Steven Jones, Youngstown