February 26, 2021 | Ohio

One good deed will make a difference in a child’s life. That was the message heard throughout the Menu of Hope event on Thursday.

The statewide nonprofit announced Friday that the event raised almost $500,000 through corporate sponsorships and the giving campaign during the show.

Judy Mobley, president and CEO for CHA said, “On behalf of Children’s Hunger Alliance, board members and the children we serve, thank you to the many first-time donors and returning supporters – including our presenting sponsor AEP and media sponsors ABC6 and Fox 28. To be able to raise half a million dollars is a testament to the generosity of Ohioans and their commitment to helping children.”

Judy Mobley, president and CEO of CHA, addressing the virtual crowd

The event was virtual for the first time allowing many more guests from across the state to participate in the annual fundraiser benefitting Ohio’s children living with food insecurity.

Stacia Naquin and Kurt Ludlow, ABC6 and Fox 28 news anchors, served as this year’s emcees. Naquin returned to host the event for the fifth year welcoming the 800 guests tuned into the show. “We are very excited that so many more people will be able to hear about the issue of childhood hunger and the message of hope for the children of Ohio,” Naquin said.

The event featured two guest speakers – Amelia Jeffers, Luxury Lifestyle Professional and Editor-in-Chief of Sophisticated Living Columbus, and Jimmy Wayne, country recording artist, New York Times best-selling author, and speaker – sharing their childhood experiences living in extreme poverty and struggling with food insecurity.

Jeffers spoke about her struggles living with hunger as a child in West Virginia and the impact her third-grade teacher had on her life by opening doors for her to visit national museums. Jeffers said, “It broadened my perspective, opened my view of the world, and showed me the opportunities that exist for anyone. So, never underestimate the impact that kindness can have on a child. One good deed can make a difference in a child’s life.”

Before becoming a successful country recording artist and best-selling author, Wayne grew up struggling with abuse, neglect and hunger. Naquin interviewed Wayne discussing stories from his New York Times best-selling memoir, A Walk to Beautiful, documenting his childhood struggles. “It hurts,” Wayne said in response to Naquin asking him what it feels like to be a hungry child. Wayne’s single mother struggled to provide food for him and his sister and many times there simply was no food at their home for weeks. They would depend on organizations, churches and strangers to provide food for the family.

At Naquin’s request, Wayne played a section of his song Some Small Good Deed, a tribute to Bea and Russell Costner, the elderly couple who provided him a job and took him in when he was a homeless teenager after being abandoned by his mother. Wayne said, “Imagine what would have happened if Bea and Russell’s small deed hadn’t happened. They changed my life. Collectively, one small deed … can change the lives of so many kids.”

Ohio First Lady spoke about how many more children are at risk for food insecurity because of the pandemic and shared her gratitude for CHA’s work in helping address the issue. “I want to thank Children’s Hunger Alliance for their unwavering commitment to feeding Ohio’s children. At the start of the pandemic, their staff and volunteers stepped up and found unique ways to serve Ohio’s children. Since then, they’ve provided nearly 9.5 million meals to children across the state. There is still much work to be done to make sure all the kids have full bellies and hope,” DeWine said.

Other notable speakers included Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz of Toledo, Chris Burkhardt, executive director of school nutrition of Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Steve Denny, executive director of business affairs of Winton Woods City Schools and CHA board member, Chrissy Musser, food service director of Meigs Local School District, and many others.

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz of Toledo speaking at Menu of Hope

CHA honored the following partners for their work on the front lines, improving the lives of Ohio’s children:

  • The School Breakfast Program of the Year – Winton Woods City School District in Hamilton County
  • The Afterschool Meal Program of the Year –The Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center
  • The Summer Meal Program of the Year – Parma City Schools in Cuyahoga County
  • The Childcare Center of the Year –Treehouse Learning Center in Franklin County
  • The Family Childcare Provider of the Year – Amy Lister

During her presentation, Mobley said that many more children are experiencing food-insecurity related to the pandemic. “The headline in Ohio used to read  ‘1 in 5 children are food-insecure.’ Today it is estimated that closer to 1 in 4 children don’t know where their next meal will come from. Ending childhood hunger is a big job made even more challenging in these extraordinary times.”

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