Dana Irribarren Was a Champion for Ending Hunger in Cleveland

I don't have much to do with the whole hunger crowd, but I met Dana Irribarren 20 years ago as she was trying to establish the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland as an independent non-profit as the Interchurch Council was shedding programs.  I was appointed to a committee to work out an amicable solution to this impasse.  Dana was always one of the strongest voices in the community for more attention and money to fight hunger.  She always made the connections to poverty, health care, and public assistance with our citizens being hungry.  There was a hunger advocacy organization in our community in the 1990s which went out of business, but Dana kept speaking up.

We worked together to try to bring some better coordination of food in East Cleveland in 2010, and Dana always showed up to lend her voice when poor people faced the negative impact of budget cuts.  She hired some wonderful staff who did a great job of advocating for additional pantry sites in emerging areas of need.  Dana served on the United Way Emergency Food and Shelter Committee for decades with me.  She was one of the strongest voices for hunger as a justice issue.  She stood up to the powerful while at the same time convincing business and community leaders to collect and distribute food to those struggling. 

There were disputes with the County and regional food organizations that spilled into the media in 2009.  Dana was quick to recognize the difficulties seniors were having last year or the new pockets of hunger in the suburbs during the downturn.  She was really good at telling the rest of us how bad things were getting in East Cleveland or how her volunteer pantry workers were struggling to fill the need in one of the other inner ring suburbs. 

There are so few experts on poverty in Cleveland.  It is so sad to see another social justice champion leave the scene.  I am going to miss Dana and her voice in Cleveland.   Poor people are especially disadvantaged because of the passing of Dana.  This week donate a bag of groceries to your local food pantry in Dana's name or sign up to serve a hot meal at your church or synagogue.  Below is the obituary sent to us by the Hunger Network as it appeared in the Plain Dealer

DANA L. IRRIBARREN (nee Richter), age 62. Beloved wife of 30 years to Alejandro Irribarren; loving mother of Irvin Oslin (Amanda); cherished grandmother of Grace; dear sister of Daniel "Butch" Richter, Kathy Bleich (Fred), and Sandy Barr; beloved aunt and cousin to many.

Executive Director and founder of the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, she was part of the fight against hunger since 1977; it was her mission and passion. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions in memory of Dana to The Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, 614 West Superior Avenue, Suite 744, Cleveland, OH 44113-1306.

Funeral Service Monday, October 19, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at the SCHULTE & MAHON-MURPHY FUNERAL HOME, 5252 MAYFIELD RD., LYNDHURST (BETWEEN RICHMOND AND BRAINARD) where the family will receive friends SUNDAY 2-6 P.M. Interment Lakeview Cemetery. - See more at: http://www.schultemahonmurphy.com then click on Obituaries to search for Dana Irribarren.

5252 Mayfield Road
Lyndhurst, OH 44124

by Brian Davis

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