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A Community Food Initiatives member stands in front of their stand and donation station at the Athens Farmers Market. The Community Food Initiative goes to the farmers market on Mondays and Wednesdays to accept food and money donations. (Arielle Berger| For The Post)

Harvest Celebration to fundraise for future of food security

This year’s Harvest Celebration will be a time for Community Food Initiatives (CFI) to showcase what it’s doing for the future of food security in Athens County to its supporters, donors and dedicated members.

CFI’s annual Harvest Celebration will be treating its guests to heavy hors d'oeuvres from Pork and Pickles and a dessert buffet by way of Fluff Bakery. There will also be a cash bar for alcoholic beverages, as well as live music by the band Old Sport. The celebration will be held in The Dairy Barn on Saturday.

This year, the Harvest Celebration will be having its first silent auction. Scott Winemiller, the executive director of CFI, is looking forward to offering guests a variety of items and exciting experiences to bid on.

“We’ve collected from many generous donors in the community that have offered lots of really great items to put up for bid,” Winemiller said. “So that’ll be going on behind the scenes during the whole event.”

One of the items that will be part of the silent auction is a “Saturday night in Athens!” package that includes two movie tickets, candy and a t-shirt for The Athena Cinema, as well as two tickets to an Ohio men's basketball game, and two tickets to an Appalachian Hell Betties’ Roller Derby match.

“With each package, we’ve tried to put donations together to really create a nice experience for people,” Winemiller said. “Optimistically, it’ll be a successful event for us in terms of fundraising.”

The Harvest Celebration is CFI’s biggest fundraiser of the year, so the donations from the event enable CFI to continue all of its current projects, Winemiller said.

“One of the biggest projects we have is the donation station,” Winemiller said. “We’re at Athens Farmers Market collecting both donations of produce as well as monetary donations. With the monetary donations, we give them back to the farmers to buy more produce that we donate to local food pantries.”

With all the produce CFI has received, the organization has donated about 90,000 pounds to food pantries. Over the past 10 years, CFI has donated over 600,000 pounds of produce to local food pantries, Winemiller said.

“People know CFI and it really warms my heart when people tell us we do great work,” Winemiller said. “And I love that we have that sense of recognizability in the community.”

Ryan Leach is planning on attending the Harvest Celebration to support CFI.

“I have worked for and with CFI in the past, and every year I look forward to seeing wonderful people and eating awesome food,” Leach said.

Kailee Slusser, a CFI board member, is especially looking forward to the food that the event will be offering.

“The Harvest Celebration will be a fun and delicious evening that will be uniting people around a shared goal of food security in this area,” Slusser said. “My taste buds are looking forward to the event.”


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