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Friday, March 07, 2014 - Hunger Solutions Taskforce adds new partner, marks one year fighting hunger in Mid-Ohio Valley

Since its formation more than a year ago, the Hunger Solutions Taskforce of the Mid-Ohio Valley has helped educate over 400 Marietta-area school children about the importance of proper nutrition and healthy living.  The Taskforce today announced the addition of a new partner, law firm Bricker & Eckler, as it ushers in the next phase of its work to combat hunger in the region.

“The people who benefit from hunger programming are our neighbors and friends,” said Chuck W. Sylerzyski, President & Chief Executive Officer of Peoples Bank, one of the Taskforce founders.  “We’re pleased to gain a partner in our neighbor Bricker & Eckler, a firm with a long-standing tradition of community involvement in communities across our region.”

“Bricker & Eckler’s attorneys, many with deep roots here in Southeast Ohio, embrace the opportunity to make a difference on a cause of great importance to the region,” said Kurt Tunnell, the firm’s managing partner.  “Chris Slagle, our partner-in-charge here in Marietta and a Gallia County native, has a decade of experience as volunteer and board member with the Children’s Hunger Alliance in hunger advocacy and service statewide, and he’s anxious to continue this mission here in the region where he grew up.”

With its $10,000 donation to the Hunger Solutions Taskforce, Bricker & Eckler joins Peoples Bank, Marietta Memorial Hospital and Marietta College in spearheading the effort.  In its first year, the group has helped bring to the Mid-Ohio Valley the program Live Healthy Kids, which uses an award-winning curriculum to teach young students basic knowledge about nutrition and hands-on healthy cooking. 

“Live Healthy Kids has been well received in the Marietta City Schools,” said task force member DeeAnn Gehlauf, Ph.D., vice president, Business & Organizational Development for Marietta Memorial Health System.  “We have started 2014 with programming expanded to 23 classrooms in 9 area schools, and we hope to expand to all school districts in Washington and Wood Counties.” 

In addition to expansion of the Live Healthy Kids programming, the Taskforce will work with the local food bank and local food pantry representatives to develop effective support for those efforts.  One of the goals is to create a more consistent funding stream and to find ways to stretch their purchasing power.  Food pantries are communities’ safety net for the 26% of people nationwide who experience hunger but are not eligible for SNAP or other government nutrition programs.

Hunger and poor nutrition are a growing problem in the region, especially among families with children.  The USDA’s annual study on food insecurity (the number of individuals who do not always have enough food – especially nutritionally adequate food – for an active, healthy life for all household members) found that in 2011, nearly 24% of children and nearly 16% of individuals in Washington, Wood and surrounding counties (56,230 people in ten counties) experienced food insecurity.  More than $22 million would be needed annually to provide these individuals with proper nutrition. Hunger among children has a major impact on not only health care costs later in life, but also educational achievement, worker productivity and eventually the ability of the region and nation to compete in a global economy. 

Peoples Bank:  Peoples Bancorp Inc. is a diversified financial services holding company with $2.1 billion in total assets, 50 locations and 47 ATMs in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. Peoples makes available a complete line of banking, investment, insurance and trust solutions through its subsidiaries – Peoples Bank, National Association and Peoples Insurance Agency, LLC.  Peoples’ common shares are traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “PEBO,” and Peoples is a member of the Russell 3000 Index of U.S. publicly-traded companies. Learn more about Peoples at www.peoplesbancorp.com.

The Memorial Health System: The Memorial Health System is a not-for-profit health system governed by a volunteer board of community members that are committed to providing comprehensive services that meet the needs of our region.  We are comprised of a network of two hospitals, outpatient service sites, assisted and long-term care facilities and a retirement community.  We work in innovative ways to meet the healthcare challenges of today, while preparing for health needs of our communities in the future. You can learn more by visiting www.mhsystem.org.

Marietta College:  Located in Marietta, Ohio, at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers, Marietta College is a four-year liberal arts college. Tracing its roots to the Muskingum Academy begun in 1797, the College was officially chartered in 1835. Today Marietta College serves a body of 1,400 full-time students. Marietta students and employees provide more than 7,000 hours of community service annually. The College offers 44 majors and has been listed among Barron’s Best Buys in College Education and Peterson’s Competitive Colleges, and has been recognized as one of the top regional comprehensive colleges by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, as well as one of the nation’s best by Forbes.com.

Bricker & Eckler LLP:  Named to The National Law Journal’s “2013 Midsize Hot List,” Bricker & Eckler is one of Ohio’s leading law firms. Located in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati-Dayton and Marietta, the firm represents a wide variety of clients, including businesses and corporations, nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, health care entities, school districts, municipalities, banks and insurers. Bricker & Eckler has more than 350 active clients in the Southeast Ohio region, including 40 clients it has represented for 25 years or more. Many of the firm’s attorneys were raised, have family in or live in the region today.  Learn more at www.bricker.com/marietta and www.bricker.com/southeast

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