Wholesale Food Purchases Help Provide Better Choices for Our Neighbors
Valley Food Relief, our annual partnership with the Dayton Daily News, contributes to our wholesale budget —
here’s why that matters
By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager
At The Foodbank, our goal is not simply to provide as much food as possible — it matters to us that the meals we provide are as nourishing, life-sustaining, and culturally appropriate as the food our neighbors would choose to purchase for themselves.
That’s why our in-house food purchase program is so important. Every year, we receive generous food donations from a variety of sources, including food drives, retail stores, and food purchased by the federal and state government. Last fiscal year, these donations were valued at over $18 million, roughly 80% of our organization’s total budget.
Our wholesale food purchase program fills important gaps in donated product. Often, we use these funds to acquire frozen meat, fresh vegetables, and specialty items. Sometimes, we purchase food for special diets, such as nutrition shakes for our older adults. Around cultural holidays, we purchase turkeys, hams, and other foods that our neighbors can enjoy with their families.
Food purchases also play a critical role in our direct service programs. While the majority of the food we acquire is distributed to our 98 partner agencies in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties, we operate several outreach programs to serve special populations.
When we pilot a new program, we typically offer a pre-set menu to keep the program consistent. This helps us to evaluate the program at the end of the pilot. Because of the wide variety of donations we receive, we need to purchase program-specific food so we always have enough product on hand.
Some of our other programs, such as our Dayton Children’s Rx Boxes and Good-to-Go Backpack Program, also use purchased food. Because children are a high-risk population, we cannot use donated or extended-date food. Purchasing food for these programs also helps us include healthy, kid-friendly options for the young ones who use the programs.
Last year, we distributed over $600,000 in purchased food — more than ever before. Prior to the pandemic, we typically purchased between $400,000 and $500,000 in food, but the increasing demand for food assistance has led us to buy more product. We anticipate we will need to purchase around the same amount this year to keep up with elevated demand.
While supply chain disruptions have increased food costs nationwide, this program is critical to our operations and the neighbors we serve. For all the reasons above, we must operate a robust purchase program alongside the generous food donations we receive from the community.
Valley Food Relief, our annual partnership with the Dayton Daily News, typically provides nearly half of our total food purchase budget. We are grateful for the support of DDN, who have supported us in this campaign for around forty years now.
Because of our large size, we are able to purchase food in bulk from retailers at a lower cost than you can find at the grocery store. We purchase food based on agency requests, direct-service program needs, and feedback from the people we serve.
While the holidays are wrapping up, Valley Food Relief is still going strong until January 10. To contribute, go to http://thefoodbankdayton.org/donate/ and select Valley Food Relief.
Every dollar raised through this campaign goes toward the purchase of healthy food for our Miami Valley community!