How our partnership with Feeding America helps us invest in our capacity

How our partnership with Feeding America helps us invest in our capacity

In the past year, we have received over $800,000 in grant funding from Feeding America

By: Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, SNAP/Outreach Lead

There is one thing we are certain about: Hunger in the United States is a national problem that takes national solutions. We are grateful to be one of 200 food banks in the Feeding America network.

Our membership with this organization comes with several perks, including national grant opportunities, shared knowledge from other thought leaders across the network, and emerging research from the Feeding America National Office’s (FANO) research team.

This partnership has been especially fruitful during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed food banks across the nation to adapt to surging demand for food in our communities.

Here is our breakdown of three ways we have leveraged funding from FANO to better serve our neighbors:

  1. Expanding our building to accommodate more staff.

With help from grant funding from Feeding America, we recently completed an expansion of our office space to accommodate our growing staff. Our current facility was designed to process about 15 million pounds of food annually. Even prior to the pandemic, we were already operating over this capacity, distributing over 16 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2019.

The pandemic added fuel to this fire by forcing us to send home our volunteers due to limited space for social distancing. Our Foodbank Family has grown from around 25 full time staff to over 50 in less than two years. We needed to hire new team members — but where would we put them?

To solve this problem, we renovated our office space to add space for 11 employees. With this additional space, we have been able to expand our mobile food distribution and volunteer management teams.

Significantly, we have also been able to direct Feeding America grant funding to the salaries of these staff, which has helped us to meet the demand in our community without the help of our volunteers. Last fiscal year, we distributed almost 18 million pounds of food.

2. Expanding our truck fleet.

As we have mentioned in a previous blog post, a large portion of the food in our warehouse comes from our food rescue program. Our truck drivers travel to 42 different retail stores every week to rescue food from their back docks.

In order to reach all of these donors, we have to have the right trucking fleet to get the job done. We also use our truck fleet to make food deliveries to agencies and host Mobile Farmer’s Markets. Thanks to Feeding America, we have been able to expand our trucking operations in the past year  by purchasing a new truck with FANO funding.

We are not the only organization that has benefitted from the expansion of our truck fleet: Last year, we raffled off one of our older vehicles to our partner agencies. This is the first time we have been able to hold a truck giveaway for our partner agencies. In this way, we can invest in the greater hunger relief network of our community.

3. Standing up new mobile pantry locations in areas with high food insecurity.

In partnership with the University of Dayton, we used FANO grant funding to pay for a Service Gap Map. While this study revealed 97% coverage of food insecure individuals in our area, it did identify some pockets in which clients were geographically distant from services.

In response to these findings, we decided to stand up temporary mobile food distributions in these areas identified as underserved. So far, we have begun monthly food distributions at the following locations: Vandalia, Englewood, and Yellow Springs.

These food distributions were made possible by pass-through grant funding from Feeding America and an anonymous donor. Every mobile pantry distribution costs $2,500 in staffing, trucking, food repacking materials, and other expenses.

We could not do the work that we do without the partnership of the Feeding America Network and their dedication to solving hunger across the nation. We are grateful for the expertise they provide in helping us better serve the Miami Valley.

 

 


Client Story: Charlene

Client Story: Charlene

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, SNAP/Outreach Lead

Client interview by Katie Heinkel, Mobile Pantries and Data Entry Assistant

Staff at The Foodbank recently had the opportunity to talk to Charlene, a Foodbank client, at our on-site Drive Thru Food Pantry.

Charlene, who is 62, attended The Foodbank’s Drive Thru March 25 to pick up her Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) box. She brought her neighbor, who is also enrolled in the program, to pick up her box as well.

CSFP, also known as the Senior Food Box program, is a United States Department of Agriculture program that distributes food to low-income seniors so that they can have a balanced, healthy diet. The Foodbank facilitates food distribution for this program, which is administered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Food assistance is especially important to older adults, who are at higher risk for complications related to food insecurity. Food insecure seniors are more likely to underutilize prescribed medications, face limitations in activity, and experience chronic health conditions.

Charlene has been enrolled in CSFP for two years now. She said she likes everything that comes in the box, but her favorite is the block cheese, which she said makes good grilled cheese and mac and cheese. In addition to the items in the box, which are primarily shelf stable, The Foodbank distributes bonus food items on days we host our CSFP distributions.

She said she was at the Drive Thru to make sure she had enough food for herself and the kids. Currently, she has four people living in her household, and she is living on a fixed income. She has a total of 7 grandkids.

“You’ve got to do what you have to do when you have kids,” she said.

Charlene said she likes using The Foodbank’s Drive Thru because it is convenient. Because staff places the food in clients’ vehicles, she doesn’t have to worry about getting out of the car and carrying groceries.

This was our Drive Thru’s original purpose: to provide an accessible way for CSFP clients, many of whom have mobility challenges, to pick up their food boxes. Over time, the purpose of the Drive Thru has expanded to include disaster relief and more widespread food assistance, but we still host weekly CSFP Drive Thrus.

Charlene encouraged everyone who needed help with food to seek it out.

“Don’t be ashamed, because everyone needs help,” she said. “Times are hard, and we are all here in the same boat, so you don’t have to be embarrassed.”

In March, The Foodbank distributed 973 CSFP boxes in Montgomery and Greene County. To qualify for this program, you must be over the age of 60 and have an income at or below 130% of the federal poverty line. To check if you qualify and to obtain an application, visit https://thefoodbankdayton.org/needfood/.

Questions? Contact Program Manager Katie Ly at (937) 461-0265 x33 or Kly@thefoodbankdayton.org.