YOUNGSTOWN - By now, 18,000 pounds of Ritz snack mix should be halfway to Oklahoma, along with five pallets of energy drinks from the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.
The food, loaded into a semi-truck Tuesday, is being sent in response to last week's tornado that killed at least 24 people and destroyed numerous homes and buildings in and around Oklahoma City.
"If we have it, we're going to share it," said Mike Iberis, executive director of the food bank.
Bill Lusk moves pallets of snack mix Tuesday from the Second Harvest Food Bank’s storehouse in Youngstown into a semi-truck. The food is being shipped to Oklahoma in response to the tornado that destroyed homes and schools last week. Photo by Margaret Thompson
Iberis said the request for handheld snacks and ready-to-eat food was emailed out to all 205 directors of the Second Harvest Food Bank chain across the nation from the national Feeding America network.
With a large donation from Nabisco - one of the food bank's regular donors - already at the Youngstown location, Iberis said the food bank was ready to fill up a semi-truck with the snacks.
It's the largest donation sent by the Mahoning Valley operation since 9-11, he said.
How to donate
Text "FOOD" to 32333 or "TORNADO" to 32333 to send a $10 donation to the regional food bank
Having a strong nationwide network of food banks lets locals rest assured that if disaster was to befall the region, other food banks would set up with assistance, Iberis said.
"Never having gone through it, it is difficult to comprehend what they are going through (in Oklahoma)," he said.
The food will arrive sometime Thursday at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, with the national office facilitating transportation. Besides the truck driver, no volunteers are accompanying the delivery.
Second Harvest of the Mahoning Valley handles about 40,000 pounds of food per day, serving Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. The food bank solicits, stores and distributes food to hunger-relief organizations in the region. In 2012, it distributed more than 9 million pounds of food.