The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank launched its annual Harvest for Hunger campaign Friday, setting an ambitious goal of raising $1.2 million and 100,000 pounds of food.

The agency also unveiled an aggressive plan to provide access to food to everyone in its eight-county region by 2025.

“Unlike so many other pressing challenges that our society has to face: Cancer. MS. The big ones. Hunger has a cure,” food bank President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Flowers told a crowd of about 250 people gathered for a kickoff breakfast at the agency headquarters in Akron.

It was the first time that the nonprofit agency held a breakfast to begin the campaign.

The food bank estimates that 1 in 7 people, including 1 in 4 children, suffer from food insecurity in the region.

The Harvest for Hunger campaign runs through April.

Last year, the nonprofit agency raised $1.04 million and 100,000 pounds of food. All proceeds go to feeding the hungry.

This year’s financial goal is the largest in history.

“We don’t want to go back,” Flowers said. “We want to move forward.”

Harvest for Hunger is the food bank’s largest fundraiser and is a collaboration among the Akron-Canton agency, Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley and the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.

Akron Beacon Journal publisher Mark Cohen and GateHouse Ohio Media publisher Jim Porter are serving as co-chairs of the campaign.

“What we do touches the heart,” said Cohen, who serves on the agency’s board of directors.

Kathleen Schenck, director of Lake Township FISH (Faithfully I Serve Him), said the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and Harvest for Hunger campaign are vital for her group to help people in the community.

Lake Township FISH, a collaboration of local churches, helps people with emergencies and operates a food pantry.

“It’s just truly a blessing to us,” Schenck said.

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank provides food for nearly 500 food pantries, shelters and other programs in Carroll, Holmes, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties.

It distributed an estimated 27.9 million pounds of food and other items last year.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.