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Ohio foodbanks say need continues to rise, while donations and buying power decline

Ohio's food banks have been stretched to the breaking point after COVID, supply chain problems, labor shortages, dwindling reserves, inflation and changes in state and federal funding. Ohio Association of Foodbanks director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt says the situation is more dire than during the first days of the pandemic. Banks are seeing 40% more clients than at this time last year, and she says some banks are running out of food and turning people away. Rising food costs means money doesn't go as far.

"Food available from state funding is down by 51%. USDA foods are down by 65%. Industry donations are down by 40%. What we're able to purchase - that's up - but we're not getting as much. The dollars are up because foodbanks are spending more."

Hamler-Fugitt says another traditional resource, the federal food reserve program, is largely drained following several years of increased demand.

More than 200 state, regional and local organizations have sent a petition to Governor Mike DeWine and the General Assembly, asking the state to spend $50 million dollars in unspent American Rescue Plan and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund to meet immediate needs. And to invest another $133 million in preparing the physical and human infrastructure for the future.

More information on the request is available here.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.