Hemp center's free cookout draws crowd

2017-05-15 | The Joplin Globe

May 15--A local hemp business has been trying to build community both through its store and through food.

Dozens of people ate at long tables Sunday afternoon at the Toledo Hemp Center's Spring Community Cookout for the Kids in the parking lot of Rudy's Hot Dog, 946 W. Sylvania Ave.

Founder Kevin Spitler said volunteers planned to cook 400 hamburgers and hot dogs, as neighbors and supporters filtered in throughout the afternoon.

The nearby hemp center, founded in 2013, sells a variety of items that include cannabidiol, or CBD -- a chemical found in industrial hemp that does not have psychotropic effects.

Proponents, such as Linda Turvey, say they believe that the products have natural health benefits.

An employee at the store who started as a volunteer, Ms. Turvey said the cookout was in line with the center's mission.

"We are helping so many people," she said.

Mr. Spitler and the hemp center hold the community cookouts twice a year.

There was an area to make Mother's Day cards, live music, and a small parade of people dressed up in costumes from Star Wars, along with the food. Nonprofit Toledo and Northwest Ohio Cornucopia was on hand too.

The cookouts are for multiple purposes.

The stated goal is to raise awareness about childhood hunger in the community. They also serve as an outreach for the hemp center. But the most important goal, Mr. Spitler said, is to try to bring the community together.

"It's showing people that we care," he said.

The neighborhood has changed, especially since the recession, they said. Many houses that were occupied by families for multiple generations have been abandoned. Gangs have become more prevalent, and the heroin epidemic has taken its toll.

Nancy Ludden works in the neighborhood, and said people are more afraid these days to get to know each other. Events like Sunday's, which bring people together, are a proactive way to foster community, she said.

"More should occur," she said.

Carmel Shephard agreed, which is partly why the pair went to the cookout. Ms. Shephard also said she wanted to learn more about hemp, as she takes 13 pills a day for pain and is looking for an alternative.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.

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