When Joe Burrow stood up on stage accepting a Heisman Trophy, he shared his experience growing up in a community where many classmates and neighbors didn’t know where their next meal was going to come from. He shared the story of a county struggling with a nearly 20% rate of food insecurity. These remarks from the Louisiana State University quarterback prompted a remarkable outpouring of generosity, with gifts flooding into the Athens County Food Pantry based in Joe’s hometown. And the pantry, with an eye for making a lasting difference with these gifts, invested $350,000 to create the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund at FAO.
The roughly $650,600 raised for the Athens County Food Pantry as of January 31, 2020 came through contributions from well over 13,000 people, inspired by Joe Burrow’s speech and donated largely through an impromptu Facebook fundraiser set up by Athens local, Will Drabold. For an organization with an annual operating budget of $75,000, this level of grassroots giving was unprecedented. The influx of contributions represented a truly watershed moment for the Athens County Food Pantry and their fight against food insecurity.
Yet even this large amount of money is nowhere near enough to come anywhere close to eliminating the crisis of food insecurity in Athens County or southeast Ohio more broadly. According to Feeding America, Athens County is home to about 12,970 food insecure people as of 2016. That’s about 19.9% of the population, making Athens County the most food insecure county in the State of Ohio.
This means that if all of the donations inspired by Joe Burrow’s speech were put to use in the near future, the food pantry would have $50.24 per food insecure person in the county. It would not stretch nearly far enough. And that’s given the 2016 data. Not long after Burrow’s speech, those numbers began changing daily in light of the economic crisis and soaring unemployment triggered by COVID-19. The food insecure population is only growing.
That's why Joe encourages all those with a heart for southeast Ohio who are able to play a part in growing the fund, to ensure long-lasting resources for the fight against food insecurity.
All new gifts will help amplify Joe Burrow's message and reach the many children, families, and individuals in need of support from the Athens County Food Pantry for many years.
If you would like to be a part of this unfolding and amazing story, make a gift online here. You may also mail your donation to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, PO Box 456, Nelsonville, OH 45764 and designate the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund.
Gifts may also be made in many other ways, including cash, bequests, appreciated stock, IRA distributions, and life insurance. For more information about the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund and how to give in the way that works best for you, contact the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio at 740.753.1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.