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Ohioans Use Paper Plates to Raise the Voices of Hunger

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December 20, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Struggling Ohioans are using paper plates and pens to ensure that their voices are heard. Through the "Paper Plate Project" of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, those in need are writing to local, state and federal leaders about the difficulties they face each day in this tough economy.

While visiting the Bethany Center's food pantry in Piqua, Jeffrey Campbell had a chance to write his message on a paper plate.

"There's so many of people out of work and people ain't got the money to buy food. So the food pantries are a great thing: people really need it, people are out there starving and, believe it or not, I'm homeless myself."

Campbell says he wrote about the need for more homeless shelters in the state, especially during the winter.

Pamela Mustard, who is social service transportation manager for the Community Action Agency of Pike County, says the organization is seeing 20 to 30 more clients each month at their food pantry. She says the paper plates have been a great visual reminder of the great number of people in need.

"We put them on a wall so other people could see them and see the plight of some of the families that come in. Just reading some of those paper plates, you can tell that this is new to some families, that they are thankful for the resource."

Mustard says the face of hunger is changing in Ohio. It used to be poor people who needed help, but now, she says, many who are employed part-time or have lost their jobs are looking for assistance as well.

The goal of the project is to collect more than 50,000 plates to show state leaders the importance of programs like food assistance and the emergency food network. So far, 9,000 have been collected.

More information is available at www.paperplateproject.org

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH