In 1979, a group of civic-minded individuals joined together to create the Cleveland Foodbank, an innovative initiative to confront the critical issue of hunger in our community. Some of its founders represented the food industry and expressed concern about the large amount of nutritious food going to waste each day. Others stood on the front lines in the fight against hunger and worried about the limited supply of food available to feed the hungry.
Working together, these individuals resolved that a single clearinghouse could solicit, collect, sort and distribute food in a more efficient manner, ensuring improved operations for local charities in the Cleveland area. The Cleveland Foodbank was incorporated to serve as a resource for both food industry donors and local charities feeding the hungry.
In its first year of operation, the organization distributed 400,000 pounds of food to 100 local hunger relief organizations.
In March 2001, after years of collaboration, the Foodbank merged with Food Rescue of Northeast Ohio, another local nonprofit food distributor. Since its founding, it had primarily focused on the distribution of nonperishable food, while Food Rescue of Northeast Ohio had focused on providing fresh, frozen and prepared food. The Foodbank is now able to provide local hunger centers with access to a wider variety of nutritious food for their clients.
In July of 2003, the Cleveland Foodbank merged with the Greater Cleveland Committee on Hunger, the organization that ran the Harvest for Hunger food and funds drive. The 21-county Harvest for Hunger campaign is now coordinated from under the Foodbank roof. Harvest for Hunger runs every spring and collects food and money to benefit the member agencies of participating food banks in Ohio.
In 2014, the organization – which grew to serve more than 700 agencies – changed its name to reflect the expanse of its service area. It became the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
Through various efforts in 2017, the Food Bank made possible 55 million nutritious meals to hungry individuals in our community.