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In Appalachian Ohio, county fairs are bringing more communities together to feed those in need

‘One pig at a time’ approach brings pork to pantries

NELSONVILLE, Ohio – Livestock sales are a pinnacle moment at county fairs, bringing community together to support and celebrate local 4-H youth. In Appalachian Ohio, this summer ritual is increasingly bringing community together to also support neighbors in need.

This summer, four geographic affiliates of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) are spearheading campaigns that invite buyers at their county fairs’ livestock sales to donate their hog purchases to fill the freezers of local food pantries. The goal? To fight hunger – one pig at a time.

“What started as a pilot program has grown into a summer tradition of giving that is putting food on the tables of those who are struggling while supporting those working on the front lines of food insecurity,” said Tony Fiore, president of the Community Foundation for Perry County (CFPC), one of FAO’s 15 affiliate foundations. “Food pantries throughout Southeast Ohio are feeding a growing need, but through programs like our Fill the Freezer campaign, everyone can make a difference.”

CFPC debuted its Fill the Freezer campaign in 2021, partnering with the county fair board, local 4-H members, the Southeast Ohio Foodbank, local food pantries, meat processors and area residents to fight hunger. Over the past two years, more than 12,500 pounds of pork have been donated, helping to stock the freezers of food pantries in Perry County and feed thousands of families in need. 

Last summer, the Hocking County Community Fund expanded Fill the Freezer to Hocking County and generated more than 2,800 pounds of meat for its food pantries. The success in Perry and Hocking counties has inspired the Vinton County Community Fund to help expand an existing and similar program called “Fair to Family” at the Vinton County Junior Fair and the Gallia Community Foundation to launch its own Fill the Freezer campaign at this summer’s Gallia County Junior Fair.

“We’re excited to bring this innovative, community approach to fighting hunger to Gallia County,” said Oliva Rees, Gallia Community Foundation committee member. “Every year, we receive funding requests from organizations throughout our county who are helping those in need. Through Fill the Freezer and the Gallia Community Foundation, everyone can give something – time, talent or treasure – to lift up our residents and our communities now and for generations to come.”

In addition to donating purchases at the livestock sales, buyers, local residents and businesses can partner with the foundations and local meat processors to cover meat processing costs. Every 25 pigs donated provides about two to three months of fully stocked freezers for local food pantries.

The campaigns will take place on the following dates:

• July 22 – Perry County Fill the Freezer, with corporate sponsorship from Columbia Gas and the NiSource Charitable Foundation

• July 28 – Vinton County Fair to Family

• Aug. 5 – Gallia County Fill the Freezer, with corporate sponsorship from Columbia Gas and the NiSource Charitable Foundation

• Sept. 16 – Hocking County Fill the Freezer, with sponsorship from TC Energy and United Way of Hocking County

For more information about these campaigns, the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and its 15 affiliate foundations, visit, email or call 740.753.1111.