Community members united at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to celebrate the kick-off of the Harvest for Hunger campaign Feb. 26.

Harvest for Hunger is the Foodbank's largest fundraising initiative and is one of the largest food and funds drives in the nation. The campaign is a collaborative effort of four food banks serving 21 Ohio counties including: the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Cleveland Foodbank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley and the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.

With the need for emergency food greater than ever before, the foodbank is encouraging community participation to reach its local goal to raise $1.035 million and 100,000 pounds of food for the 2014 campaign. According to a news release from the Foodbank, all Harvest for Hunger donations will go directly toward feeding hungry men, women and children in the community.

"Harvest for Hunger is important to us because you are important to us," said Dan Flowers, President and CEO of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. "Living in a healthy community, free of hunger, linked to a healthy and sustainable food system is important to us."

There are two major components to the Harvest for Hunger campaign:

• Food & funds drives: Nearly 300 businesses, schools, community organizations and families are holding food and fund drives throughout the months of March and April. To host a food and funds drive, register and download a coordinator's kit from the Foodbank's website, The biggest impact in the fight against hunger is made through financial donations. Every $1 donation provides four meals for those in need.

• Check Out Hunger: Many local stores are participating in Check Out Hunger, which allows shoppers to scan coupons and make donations of $1, $5 or $10 at the check-out register.

The local 2014 Harvest for Hunger campaign is being led by three respected leaders from the food manufacturing industry: Bill Frantz, President, Sandridge Food Corporation; Shawn McCall, President, US Foods; and C.J. Fraleigh, Chairman and CEO, Shearer's Foods.