Glenn and Marianne Culbertson

Glenn and Marianne Culbertson’s involvement with Freestore Foodbank began over 20 years ago through volunteering at holiday food distributions with their young daughters, Shannon and Molly.  They wanted to spark their children’s involvement in philanthropy by making it a part of their family’s holiday tradition.

Glenn has worked at GE Aviation for 34 years as a materials engineer.  He enjoys the culture of philanthropy GE fosters that allows him to fit volunteering into his work day.  He especially enjoys the volunteer opportunities that allow him to help school children get the resources they need to succeed through tutoring and assisting with Power Pack site applications.  Yet, it wasn’t until when his oldest daughter, Shannon, began working for GE that Glenn become fully aware of the power of their corporate matching gift program.  From then on, the Culbertsons began generously donating to Freestore Foodbank, with their gifts matched by GE, in addition to volunteering.  GE’s matching gift program was a great way for the Culbertson family to expand their involvement with Freestore Foodbank.

Marianne equally enjoys the incentive GE provides to encourage charitable giving as Freestore Foodbank’s mission is close to her heart: she believes that access to food and the ability to cook are basic needs.  “Providing a meal for your family is an expression of love,” she said.  As a result of serving on the Board of Education in Mason, she understands the importance of being in a structured learning environment in order to turn things around, especially when someone needs a second chance, which the Cincinnati COOKS! program provides. Marianne loves that Cincinnati COOKS! participants receiving training for the culinary industry, including learning advanced skills through the program.

Glenn and Marianne are looking forward to remaining involved with Freestore Foodbank and volunteering with their grandchildren, Eve and Renee, in the near future.

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Story In Pictures – February 2019

The year has started out with a bang! We scrambled to provide help for the thousands of families affected by the partial government shutdown. We hosted our Annual Meeting, celebrated the graduation of Class 177 of Cincinnati COOKS!, welcomed Class 5 of LIFT the Tristate, opened a new clinic pantry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and represented Cincinnati at the National Taste of the NFL

Congratulations Class 177 of Cincinnati COOKS!

Welcome to Class #5 of LIFT the TriState.

Children’s Hospital Clinic Pantry

We opened our second clinic pantry in collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Pediatric Primary Care Center in Avondale. The first one was started in July 2017 at the Hopple Street Neighborhood Health Center. Both pantries are made possible through the Bob Edwards Feed A Child Fund. Many young patients and their families face food insecurity and our pantries will offer doctors and their staff an opportunity to provide them with wholesome food options.

County-wide Food Drive for the Feds

Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus kicked off a county-wide food drive at a press conference held at the Freestore Foodbank’s Liberty Street Market with the goal to raise food to meet the higher-than- usual demand expected over the next month as we experience the residual effects of the recent government shutdown.

2019 Annual Meeting

We were happy to hold our Distinguished Speaker Series and Annual Meeting on Thursday Jan 24, 2019. It was an honor to have the CEO of Feeding America Claire Babineaux-Fontenot as our guest speaker. Thanks DBL Law for sponsoring the event.

Taste of the NFL

Proud to represent Cincinnati at the Taste of NFL Party with a Purpose in Atlanta. We thank all the restaurants that participated in the Kick Hunger Challenge and we congratulate Jag’s Steak and Seafood and Chef Michelle for their wonderful support!

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Volunteer Connection – February 2019


Help Us Turn Hunger
Into Hope in 2019

All volunteers are welcome to join our team as TOGETHER, WE CAN SOLVE HUNGER! Individuals may self-register and groups may request special dates by visiting our website:  Email our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, Carolyn Frank at or call 513-482-7550 for further assistance.

Liberty Street Market (formerly Liberty Street Market)
Located at 112 E. Liberty, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

The Liberty Street Market (formerly known as the Food Room) has a new and improved look and name!  Consider volunteering in our newly refurbished space and help us serve up to 300 people daily.

Liberty Street Market Shifts:  Individuals or groups of 15 or less can schedule a time to volunteer in the Liberty Street Market, Monday through Friday.  Projects include food sorting, restocking shelves with groceries, assisting customers with their groceries outside of the building and loading groceries in their vehicle in front of the building. Volunteers must be at least 16-years-old (with parental consent) to volunteer at this site.

Check out this video about the Liberty Street Market :

Campbell’s Soup, Wyoming High School Football, and Cincinnati Bengals packed over 2,100 Power Packs!

Mayerson Distribution Center
Located at 1250 Tennessee Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229.

Group and Individual Activities
Calling those who want to make a difference this winter! Help the young in age and young at heart as we pack Power Packs and Senior Boxes in February.  Power Packs are bags of food that are given to some area children who usually receive a free or reduced breakfast and lunch at school during the week.  The Power Pack is intended to provide supplemental food to get them through the weekend.  The Senior Box is a box of food given to the elderly to supplement their regular monthly needs as well.

 Regular Warehouse Shifts: Shifts are held Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Both individuals and groups are welcome at the Distribution Center. Volunteers must be at least 13 years of age to volunteer. Student 13-18 years old must have parental consent and students 13-15 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. 

Check out Two Special Volunteer Events for Special Groups!

First Saturdays are Family Saturdays!
Looking for a fun family experience?  Have a couple of hours to give service?  Bring your entire family and help us feed our neighbors.  The warehouse usually has an age restriction of 13 years, but on the first Saturdays of the month, children 8 and older are invited to come with their families to volunteer!  What a great way to serve our community and grow as a family at the same time.

Thursday Nights are Student Nights!
Calling all Students (16 and over)! Interested in earning some of your student service hours while having some fun? Reserve your spot and come on out to the Freestore Foodbank’s Mayerson Distribution Center on Thursday nights for Student Nights! Bring some friends and we promise you’ll have a great time helping us solve hunger in our community!  Sign up online.  No Walk Ins please.

The Giving Fields  (scheduling begins March 1st)
Located at 101 Anderson Lane, Melbourne, KY 41059
The Giving Fields is our community farm located in Melbourne, Kentucky – approximately five minutes from NKU. We plant, maintain and harvest fresh produce for our partner food pantries and soup kitchens in Northern Kentucky. Registration will open at the beginning of March for the 2019 growing season. This is a great volunteer opportunity for people of all ages. Families with children five years of age and older, high school and college students, as well as individuals and groups are welcome. The farm is slated to reopen in early April – weather permitting.

Healthy Harvest Mobile Market
At various locations throughout the community
Want to help bring healthy nutritious produce into the community?  Volunteer on a regular basis with the Healthy Harvest Mobile Market!  We are also in need volunteers once a month for the HHMM Clean Up Crew as well.  Contact Brandon Thomas, Volunteer Engagement Specialist at for more details.

Cincinnati Cooks!/Lift the Tri-State Soft/Life Skills Instructors
Cincinnati Cooks! and Lift the Tri-State, FSFB’s premier workforce development programs, are  looking for a few new facilitators to lead their soft/life skill classes.  Topics of interest include: Interviewing 101, Resume Building/Writing, Customer Service, Diet/Nutrition, Effective Communication/Listening, Time Management, Conflict Resolution, and Anger/Stress Management.  If interested, contact Brandon Thomas, Volunteer Engagement Specialist at for more details.

All volunteers are welcome to join our team as TOGETHER, WE CAN SOLVE HUNGER! Individuals may self-register and groups may request special dates by visiting our website:  Email our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, Carolyn Frank at or call 513-482-7550 for further assistance.

Join our Facebook Freestore Foodbank Volunteer Page to view all of our pictures of our exciting volunteers in action in the past few months!

Other Ways to Help

Food and Fund Drives
Donations of canned goods are needed all year around, not just at the holidays! If you
would like to organize a canned food OR fund drive, please contact Bob Barnes at 513-482-4517.

Are you interested in becoming a member of the Freestore Foodbank team? Please click here for our current employment opportunities.

Thank you to the following groups for your support in January 2019!
We sincerely appreciate their continued support and contribution of their time.

Mayerson Distribution Center (Tennessee Avenue)

Campbell Soup
Case Western Reserve University Alumni
Christ Hospital
Cincinnati Bengals and Staff
Cincinnati Gator Club
ConstructConnect IT
Dinsmore & Shohl
Dohn Young Women’s Academy
Doorga Friends
DSD Advisors
Faith Lutheran Church
Fifth Third Bank
General Electric
Girl Scouts
Holy Trinity St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Youth Group
Ken Anderson Alliance
Kiwanis – Cincinnati
Kiwanis – Greenhills Forest Park
Lakota High School
Madeira Middle School
Ohio Valley Institute of Food Technologies
Pricewaterhouse Coopers
St. Margaret Knights of Columbus
Tetra Tech
The Asset Advisory Group
The Children’s Home
The Gathering at Northern Hills
The Matrix Companies
Tri-State Freethinkers
University of Cincinnati
University Of Cincinnati Medical Center
Western Southern Financial
Wise Temple
Wyoming High School

Liberty Street Market

Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
Collective Visions, LLC
Easter Seals Tristate
University of Cincinnati

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A Second Chance

How do you graduate from college with a degree in Computer Engineering and end up driving a fork lift? That is exactly what happened to Cortheas Gatewood (Cortez). Growing up, Cortez was fascinated by technology. He still loves computers more than anything else in the world. He loves to takes them apart and fix them and he understands how they work. After he graduated from the University of Cincinnati with an engineering degree, Cortez started working as an IT contractor for Duke Energy. “I loved Duke. I sat a desk, answered the phone, helped fix computers and set up networks,” he remembers. “ I lived a normal life, had friends and went to retirement parties. That was perhaps the best years of my life.” Unfortunately his contract ran out and Cortez found himself out of a job.

Shortly after being laid off, Cortez was involved in a domestic violence incident and put on probation. To make matters worse, he was caught handling marijuana while on probation and sentenced to nine months in prison. When he got out of jail, alone and broke, he was grateful that Talbert House offered him assistance with finding an apartment and paying rent until he could find a job. Cortez worked odd jobs and spent hours on the Internet looking for stable employment. “I looked and looked for a good job as a computer engineer,” he says. “However, once the employer found out that I’d been in jail, they’d turn me down.” As rejections  piled up, Cortez felt growing desperation. “I did not think I would ever be employed again,” he says. It was at that time that he received an email from Belflex, a local staffing firm telling him about LIFT the TriState, a free workforce development program offered by the Freestore Foodbank. It was meant specifically to help individuals like him who were struggling to find employment or faced significant barriers to entering the workforce. “LIFT the TriState offered hope at a time when I was running out of options,” Cortez says. “I was grateful to be given a second chance.”

Cortez called the Freestore Foodbank and enrolled in the program. “I was excited that this training would teach new skills which could help me find employment once again,” Cortez says. “My greatest desire was to become independent. I hated not being self-sufficient.” Cortez  graduated from the program a few months later. Since then, he has been working as a contractor for Dillards. “When my contract at Dillards expires, I am confident that I’ll be able to find something else,” he says. “The certifications that I have acquired through LIFT give me an advantage. When I interview, most hiring managers are impressed by my certifications and they move me to the top of the list.” Cortez is grateful to LIFT for giving him a chance to start a fresh chapter in his life. “LIFT has given me a chance to be independent again. It has transformed me and I feel whole again,” he adds.

LIFT stands for Logistics, Inventory Management, Facilities Management and Transportation. The program offers an opportunity for unemployed and underemployed adults throughout the TriState region to become trained in a growing field, providing essential job skills. This 10-week free job training program based in Northern Kentucky provides hands-on training from experienced warehouse personnel at the Freestore Foodbank, specialized coursework designed by Gateway Community and Technical College, as well as links to local employment through BelFlex Staffing Network and other program partners.

For more information on how to apply click here.

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Nutrition Starts in Elementary School

That fall morning in early October, Naomi Colliver, Guidance Counselor at Arnett Elementary sat at her desk reviewing her schedule for the day. She saw her door open just a crack. As she watched, hazel eyes appeared and then a little face framed in curly brown hair. Antonio, the fifth grader, who had recently moved from Honduras, stood at the door clutching his book bag and looking anxious. As he walked in, Naomi studied his face and could tell that something was very wrong.  He came close to her and whispered in broken English, “Ms. Colliver, I am too tired to study today.” Naomi looked at him with a mixture of surprise and concern. She led him to a chair and sat down next to him. As they sat there together, Antonio whispered his story to her. Antonio’s mother cleaned hotel rooms and she worked third shift. His older brother who was in seventh grade did not know how to cook.

The children had had very little to eat the previous evening. And there was very little in the refrigerator at home other than a couple frozen burritos and some milk. They would not have much more until his mom got paid and went grocery shopping over the weekend. Naomi was troubled to hear this, but not entirely shocked. Arnett Elementary was home to many students who faced food insecurity and poverty. She got to work immediately, finding a granola bar and milk for little Antonio and letting his teacher know. That evening, however, she introduced him to the school pantry at Arnett and sent him home with a packet of chicken flavored Ramen noodles and instructions on how to microwave it. Antonio was thrilled and amazed. The idea of being able to microwave a quick and delicious meal for himself blew his mind.  That night, Naomi made the most important call of all. She called Antonio’s mom, Isabella and invited her to visit the school the next morning on her way back from work. With the help of a translator, she showed her the school pantry and invited her to take full advantage of it whenever she felt she needed food assistance.

Arnett Elementary located in Erlanger Kentucky opened a school pantry in September 2018.  The school, a part of the Erlanger Elsmere Independent school District, serves a diverse community of students. Seeing the needs of the community, Amanda New, the Principal of the school was convinced of the need for a school pantry. “We liked the idea of having a school pantry because it could reach a lot more people and also gave people a choice,” says Naomi. The school pantry is accessible at any time although it has designated working hours twice a month. Tracy Molley who is the Family Resource Coordinator is responsible for reaching out to parents and making sure they are aware that help is available to them at any point. “We are open two days a month from 7:30 am to 9:30 am especially to help parents who are coming off of third shift,” Tracy says. “Coming to a food pantry for help is a little uncomfortable for many people because they do not want to be seen as accepting a handout. We try to make sure they know that they are welcome to our pantry and that they will never be judged.”

Arnett Elementary also offers Produce Pop-Up Pantries a few times a year. The first one was in early September on Parent Night.  “It was a wonderful way to introduce parents to the school pantry,” remembers Tracy. “The gym was filled with parents and a ton of produce. There were watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes, bags of potatoes, sweet potatoes and baked goods. Every family went home armed with information about the school and a bag full of produce!” The school is grateful for the support offered by the Freestore Foodbank. “We have been able to meet the needs of our community with the help of this program,” says Naomi. “ Our school has gone from being a mere academic institution to being a community hub. We are proud to be able to meet the needs of the families we serve and to introduce them to the idea of nutritious and healthy eating.”

To learn more about School Pantries click here.

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Story in Pictures – January 2019

December was filled with joyful moments as we worked diligently to help as many of our neighbors as possible. The month kicked off with our amazing Adopt A Family program followed by our Holiday Food Distribution. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring holiday cheer to the homes of so many  and we look forward to more exciting work in 2019.

THANK YOU to every dedicated donor, volunteer and staff member who supported our 2018 ADOPT A FAMILY campaign. Because of your generosity close to 110 families we serve went home with beautifully wrapped presents. Thank you for helping us make Christmas more joyful for hundreds of children in the tristate region.

Congratulations to Class 176 of Cincinnati COOKS!

We are proud to share that over the span of two incredible days, we successfully delivered nutritious holiday meals to over 11,000 individuals which is close to 4,000 households in the tristate. Our sincere thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, community leaders, elected officials and staff members who worked alongside us to make this possible. We are especially grateful to our generous sponsors Sysco Corporation, American Mortgage and Coca-Cola Consolidated.


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