Like many foodbanks across the country, Cincinnati's Freestore Foodbank is seeing an increased need during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of Ohio's 12 Feeding America foodbanks and provides food for the Greater Cincinnati area, Northern Kentucky and parts of Indiana — more than 20 counties said Mayor John Cranley in a press briefing on Monday.
"When I spoke to (Freestore Foodbank CEO) Kurt Reiber last week, he said they were on pace to give out what they would normally give out in six months in one month," Cranley said. "He also told me last week that right now, at that pace, they only have enough food for the next three weeks, which is pretty scary.
"And part of that is because they normally get food from restaurants that have excess food which, obviously, they’re not open. And they get additional food from Kroger, etc., which, because everybody’s buying out everything at Kroger, they don’t have leftovers like they used to have. And so it’s really a desperate situation. And it’s a weird thing to say and a sad thing to say in this country but people are literally at risk of going hungry in a way that they haven’t in our lifetimes."
As a result, the Freestore Foodbank has launched a fundraiser hoping to raise $10,000.
In the description for the request, the foodbank says, "The economic impact of COVID-19 is increasing food insecurity in our community. Closures of restaurants, businesses and schools will affect lower-income families and people with hourly wages in particular. We need your help to assist Freestore Foodbank in responding to the increased need of our neighbors. Please donate today. We provide food and services, create stability and further self-reliance for people in crisis. Our vision is to be the leader of a community mobilized to end hunger and address its causes."
And on their Facebook page, they are are highlighting stories of those who are utilizing the foodbank's services who have never had to before.
This story isn't uncommon.
In the state's daily COVID-19 press briefing, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted discussed an executive order, signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, that will give $5 million in emergency funding to support the states 12 Feeding America foodbanks and the Ohio-wide hunger relief network. That funding will come from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant.
A release from the governor's office says the Ohio Association of Foodbanks will use that funding to purchase boxed and canned items in addition to locally grown produce, locally produced dairy, fresh meat and eggs and essential household items. Part of that funding will also be used specifically for the Agricultural Clearance Program to buy Ohio-produced farm products so they don't go to waste.
The Executive Order outlined today also earmarks $1 million in TANF funding for the Agricultural Clearance Program, where @OhioFoodbanks will purchase Ohio-made commodities, such as milk, to distribute to foodbanks across the state.— Lt. Governor Jon Husted (@LtGovHusted) April 13, 2020
Learn more ➡️ https://t.co/a6YSmDZWuG pic.twitter.com/ki6UD53XGk
In his press briefing, Mayor Cranley also urged people who have the ability to donate to the Freestore Foodbank and said the United Way and Greater Cincinnati Foundation have already been providing funds.
He also reminded people to fill out their Census forms. The Census data will be used to allocate funds for federal programs like SNAP benefits (the federal nutritional assistance program). Cranley said 10 times the amount of people are fed through SNAP than are fed through local foodbanks.