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Cleveland-Cliffs donates $1M to address food insecurity

CLEVELAND — Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. announced Tuesday that its philanthropic organization, The Cleveland-Cliffs Foundation, has made several commitments totaling more than $1 million in cash contributions to several food distribution organizations in the local communities where the company operates in the United States and Canada.

The foundation plans to distribute the majority of its funding immediately, according to a post on the company’s website.

Lourenco Goncalves — Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer — said, “We sadly recognize that, throughout the United States and Canada, millions of households are experiencing food insecurity amid the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. As a direct consequence, local food banks are being challenged to respond to the needs of a growing number of their fellow citizens. As a leader in the North American steel industry and a prominent employer in many of the communities where we operate, we believe that Cleveland-Cliffs has a role to play in supporting these food banks. We are helping our neighbors facing hunger, and we encourage other employers to step up and tackle the issue of hunger by also supporting local food banks.”

Cleveland-Cliffs is collaborating with 44 food distribution organizations in over 35 communities across the United States — in Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — as well as in Ontario, Canada. The company’s total contribution is estimated to provide up to 10 million meals, which is based on guidance from hunger-relief organizations in the United States.

Patricia Persico, director of corporate communication for Cliffs, said via email that the company is partnering with two agencies in this area: The Salvation Army and Feeding America West Michigan.

This was happy news for Jean LaBerge, director of the Western Upper Peninsula Food Bank, based in Houghton.

“This is the first I have heard of it, but all donations are welcome because that means more food to distribute and more pantries can be scheduled,” she said. “Whatever amount would be a help. We haven’t been notified, but anything will be most welcome.”

LaBerge said the U.P. food bank was working to not only have more pantries, but to spread out the area in which the food is distributed.

The Salvation Army of Marquette County will receive $20,000 as part of the donation, which will be used for its food pantries in Marquette and Ishpeming.

Salvation Army Capt. Doug Winters echoed LaBerge’s comments by saying the donation came as a surprise.

“It was not something we applied for, it just came out of the blue,” he said. “We receive regular Christmas help from the Cleveland-Cliffs Foundation, but to receive this grant was very much surprising in an environment right now where the need continues to grow.

“We’re pleased to turn that back into help for the community immediately. Cliffs is a very great partner who helps us on a regular basis. They’re a company that’s concerned about the communities they work in, and it shows through a gift like this. It really was a pleasant surprise.”

To find out more about the Cleveland-Cliffs Foundation, visit www.clevelandcliffs.com.

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