How to host a holiday food drive

How to host a holiday food drive

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Intake/Volunteer Support

The holiday season is in full swing, which means things are getting busier here at our warehouse. We see an overall increase in volunteer hours, donations, and corporate campaigns. One of the most popular ways people choose to give back is by hosting a food drive.

While some food banks have moved away from accepting food drive donations during COVID, our food drive program is back in full swing. Whether you’re gathering items at home, work, or school, food drives are a great way to add a personal touch to your holiday giving by adding your favorite food items.

We’ve created a short how-to guide to help you get started!

What items can I donate?

This time of year, lists of items that you should or shouldn’t donate circulate on social media. Don’t overthink it! We encourage people to follow a simple guideline: What would your family eat?

The families we serve also enjoy the same sorts of foods you do, including easy-to-prepare meals, snacks, and the occasional sweet treat. Remember that our goal is not to provide as much food at as low cost as possible, but to serve our neighbors with the food they need for a healthy, active lifestyle.

We welcome non-perishable food donations of all kinds. Some popular items are canned meat and fish, hearty soups, rice, beans, and canned fruits and veggies. We are unable to accept perishable foods through food drives. 

We can also accept non-food items, such as toiletries and pet food. In keeping with food safety guidelines, please store these items separately from all food.

Consider a virtual food drive!

The easiest way to maximize your impact is through a monetary contribution. Because of our ability to purchase in bulk, our partnerships with local retail donors, and our hard-working food procurement team, we were able to distribute five meals for every $1 donated last year.

To put that in perspective, a 24-pack of ramen at a local grocer costs around $5. On average, a $5 contribution provides 25 meals — and one-third of the food we distributed last year was fresh produce. If you yourself are working with a tight budget this holiday season, consider donating to us, and we’ll do the shopping!

That said, we do value the food we receive through food drives tremendously. This food is an important supplement to our other food procurement streams. Physical food drives are also important to raise awareness around the issue of food insecurity during the holidays.

Visit this page to learn more about organizing a fund drive.

Get started today!

Scheduling a food drive is simple: Before you start, contact Jamie Robinson at (937) 461-0265 x14 or jrobinson@thefoodbankdayton.org to discuss the details of your drive. Then, fill out this participation form on our website. Please allow 48 hours before you pick up or drop off your food drive barrel(s).

At the end of the drive your collection of food may be dropped off at The Foodbank, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. through 12:00 pm and 1:00 p.m. through 3:30 p.m. Please call to let us know when you are coming. Lunch appointments for drop off can be arranged in advance.

Questions? Call Jamie Robinson at (937) 461-0265 ext. 14.

Consider these ideas to make your food drive more impactful:

  • Offer materials, such as this factsheet from Feeding America, about food insecurity alongside donation barrels.
  • Set up friendly competitions between departments to encourage giving
  • Come up with a theme! Ex: allow casual wear for people who donate, hold a potluck lunch with a canned good as cost of admission, etc.
  • Ask your organization to match donations with cash to incentivize giving

 


Senior Food Boxes help increase food security among older adults

Senior Food Boxes help increase food security among older adults

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or CSFP, provides boxes of nutritious food to low-income seniors

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer/Intake Support

Eating a healthy, well balanced diet is something we all strive to do, especially as we get older and make adjustments to our needs. With aging comes dietary changes, and purchasing diet-specific foods can create a financial burden on seniors already living within a fixed income.

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), also known as the Senior Food Box Program, is a United States Department of Agriculture program designed to supplement the health of low-income older adults.

CSFP provides a monthly box of a variety of food, including canned fruits and vegetables, shelf stable milk, canned protein, peanut butter, and cheese. Seniors enrolled in this program receive one box per month free of charge. The USDA selects and purchases the food used in this program, which The Foodbank administers with the oversight of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Nationwide, the CSFP program serves about 619,000 older adults annually. According to Feeding America, each box costs the USDA $27 and results in a product with an average retail value of $50. The nutritious food available in the box helps prevent health consequences of food insecurity, including hospital stays and nursing home placements.

One 2019 study of CSFP clients in Rhode Island found that 84.9% of those surveyed were found to be food insecure prior to enrolling in the program. After enrolling, overall rates of food insecurity dropped to 64.1%.

The CSFP program is especially important to protect the health of older adults. According to the Food Research Action Center, older adults who experience food insecurity are 19% more likely to have high blood pressure, 57% more likely to have congestive heart failure, 65% more likely to be diabetic, and 66% more likely to have experienced a heart attack.

The Foodbank currently distributes CSFP boxes at 21 different locations across Montgomery and Greene counties. These include apartment complexes, senior living communities, and the drive thru at our warehouse. These distribution sites are selected with accessibility in mind. Placing food directly into cars or distributing directly in living communities makes transporting food much easier.

Last year, The Foodbank distributed over 2.3 million pounds of CSFP food. Over 1,000 seniors were enrolled in the program.

Because CSFP is administered through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, it is the only Foodbank program that has an application process. To enroll in the program, you must be 60 years of age or older and living at or below 130% of the federal poverty level. To see if you qualify, check your income against the chart below:

2021 CSFP Income Guidelines

Household Size Annual Income Monthly Income Weekly Income
1 $16,744 $1,396 $322
2 $22,646  $1,888  $436
3 $28,548  $2,379 $549
4 $34,450  $2,871 $663
5 $40,352 $3,363 $776
6 $46,254 $3,855  $890 
7 $52,156 $4,347 $1,003
8 $58,058  $4,839  $1,117
For each additional member, add… 5,902 $492 $114

You may fill out an application at our office or have one mailed to you by calling Emily Riley at 937-461-0265 x54.

 


Photos: Looking back on a summer of Mass Food Distributions

Photos: Looking back on a summer of Mass Food Distributions

 For the first time, we were able to offer health services alongside our biggest food distributions this year

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer/Intake Support

For several years, we have operated three Mass Food Distributions each summer. These large-scale distributions were conceptualized to increase the amount of fresh produce available in our three-county service area.

This year, we have expanded the Mass Food Distributions to include wrap-around services, including COVID-19 vaccinations, health screenings, mammograms, and HIV testing, from our partners. We are grateful to partner with Miami Valley organizations who share our emphasis in addressing the social determinants of health.

In addition, we held four “bonus” distributions this year at the Dixie Twin Drive In. At all seven of these Mass Food Distributions combined, we served a total of 3,875 households and distributed over 400,000 pounds of food.

Thank you to our partners CareSource, Dayton Children’s Hospital, Premier Health, Public Health, Equitas Health, Moms2B, SICSA, Preschool Promise, Oak Street Health for making these events possible.

Check out these photos from our distributions this summer:


Remembering Matthew Roll

Remembering Matthew Roll

Celebrating the life of our beloved friend and team member

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer Support & Intake

 

The Foodbank team was heartbroken to learn that one of our own, Matthew Roll, passed away unexpectedly last Tuesday October 12, 2021. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

Matt was, by all assessments, an absolutely indispensable member of our Foodbank Family during his six years with us. There was not a part of our organization Matt did not touch. He started his journey as a Warehouse team member, and at the time of his passing he was cross training to be our Chief Operating Officer and in charge of our Business Office. His influence on every aspect of our organization will survive for years to come.

Due in part to his own prior involvement with the criminal justice system, Matt was a phenomenal advocate for employees who had previously been incarcerated. He was one of our very first re-entry hires. In many ways, Matt was a great example that a criminal record does not need to define the rest of your life. Matt’s enormous heart, never-ending patience, and calm energy will be missed by all who came into contact with him.

While The Foodbank will never be quite the same without him, we will honor his legacy by continuing to hire and support people who have previously been incarcerated. We are so grateful for the time we had with him.

Matt had a lasting impact on each team member he met during his time with us. Here’s what they had to say:

“Matt’s ‘creative problem-solving techniques’ to conquer any task would put a smile on your face in admiration. Matt’s kindness, unending patience, intelligence, and sense of humor paved a lighted path directly to your heart.” –Rachel Hilderbrand

“Matthew was always the first person I could count on for a laugh, I will forever miss his impressions of past memories at The Foodbank and seeing a smile light up his face. He taught us all to never take things too seriously and to always take the last donut from the box… and the Reese cup from someone else’s desk.” –Lee Lauren Truesdale

“No matter what question I asked him, he never made me feel stupid for asking.” -Jessica Plummer

“Tell Matt I will always be grateful to him for teaching me everything I know about food banking. For always leading by example – a true leader. Never afraid to be on the frontlines and get his hands dirty. Always a willing hand I could call on with no judgment. A welcoming smile and calming spirit I looked forward to working with and being around. You will be missed, and always in our hearts.” –Charles Martin

“Matt was an advocate for everyone. His leadership was extraordinary because it was gentle, and we are all better for it.”  –Lauren Tappel

“Even though you led with your conservative, calm, collective, cool blue energy, I had the pleasure of seeing the funny, personable side of you.  Watching you zoom around doing whatever you could do. We laughed a lot and I really enjoyed hearing it. That big bright smile you loved to hide, I’m going to miss it. I loved some of the hilarious stories you told me, and your warm comforting demeanor you had for all of us to see. You left such an impact on our hearts, rebuilding without you we don’t even know where to start. We’re gonna miss you Matt, and from time to time I’ll hide you a snack.” –Quita Williams

“Matt was a bright light with a contagious laugh that brought a smile to everyone around him. I am thankful for the time I got to know him.” –Katie Heinkel

“Matt’s genuine personality and laugh will truly be missed. He was always easy to talk with and would go over and beyond to help you. No matter how busy he was, he always made time for you even if it was just to tell you he hadn’t forgot about you and would follow up. Fly high Matt, I will always remember you by your beautiful smile.” –Jamie Robinson

 “Matt is the unselfish leader we all deserve. His leadership style maximized my production level because he valued effort over mistakes. Meaning he allowed me and others to fail without fear of persecution. And when you did well, he made sure everyone knew ‘You did it.’ Thank you, Matt.” –Daquarious Branch

“When I think of Matt, I think of his kind soul, his great smile and his infectious laugh. He never made me feel stupid for asking silly questions, and there were lots of those! I will miss the sound of his fast feet moving around the office…he must have walked 50,000 steps in a day! My life is better for having known Matt.” –Molly Lunne

“Matthew and I were hired at the Foodbank just weeks apart from each other. He was my first work friend and quickly became a good friend as well. He did everything to help the people around him. His passion and drive shined so bright. His smile lightened a room. And his ability to figure things out was unparalleled. Matthew will be missed dearly.” –Jordan Komon

“You were always fun to be around, you loved to laugh and tell jokes. I bet you didn’t know it, but you had a very big impact on the people at The Foodbank, and anyone you met along the way. You always made the comment on how many people come and go from The Foodbank, but you went way too soon my friend. Watch over your family and ours, I hope you rest easy!” –Nick Green

“Matt was always on your team — if he was in the room you knew you had somebody to count on. He was the first person you ran to in hot water, and the first suspect when all of the candy was gone from your snack drawer. I can only hope he knew we were all on his team too. The world needs more Matts.” –Caitlyn McIntosh

“I will miss Matt’s smile, his infamous sweet tooth, and his seemingly bottomless well of patience for all of us at The Foodbank. I will never forget the day he said that what motivated him was that he never wanted to let anyone down. I just hope, somehow, that he knows he never did. Not even once.” –Emily Gallion

“Among Matthew’s finest and most admirable qualities was his humbleness — always deflecting attention away from himself — while serving others in the most exemplary fashion.  He rarely spoke of himself.  He really didn’t need to; his actions spoke volumes.  Still, I wish he would have shared more of himself because I think we all would have benefited.” –Katie Ly

“I can’t even begin to count how many times I heard ‘Hey Matt’ on a daily basis. Matt was the lifeline for all of us here at The Foodbank. No matter what you asked him about he always knew the answer, and more often than not he actually knew what you were going to ask about before you said it! I will miss his bright spirit so much. Thank you, Matt, for always having our backs… you will be so incredibly missed by everyone here.” –Lauren Mathile


It’s time to close the book on college hunger

It’s time to close the book on college hunger

Despite that an estimated one-third of college students are food insecure, most are ineligible to receive SNAP benefits

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Intake/Volunteer Support

It’s a familiar joke: “College students live on ramen.” We all recognize the stereotype that college students live on cheap, calorie-rich “junk” foods. However, the reality lurking behind this narrative is much more troubling.

A 2019 survey found that 34 percent of college students were food insecure in the previous 30 days. As with the general population, certain students are more likely to face food insecurity, including students of color, students who are transgender or nonbinary, and students enrolled at two-year institutions.

While many assume that most college students rely on funding from their parents, this has become more and more incorrect. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office found that 71% of college students were “nontraditional,” meaning they are financially independent, working full time, enrolled part-time, have dependents of their own, or did not receive a high school diploma. 

The “traditional” student, one who enrolls in college full-time after completing high school and is dependent on their parents, represents less than one-third of the college population.

We are all aware of the impacts food insecurity has on an individual’s health and well-being. College students who are food insecure also face poorer educational outcomes than their peers. A John Hopkins study found that food insecure students were 43 percent less likely to graduate and 61 percent less likely to get an advanced degree.

“Policies to increase access to higher education need to really help students afford the full cost of higher education, meaning their living expenses as well as tuition rates,” an author of the study said.

Given the extent of food insecurity in this population, as well as the impact on college success, it is clear that hunger is a major barrier for college graduation. While education is supposed to provide equal opportunity, these barriers are disproportionately felt by students from low-income families, students of color, and students who are transgender — magnifying existing inequalities.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) is the nation’s number one defense against hunger. However, college students are generally not eligible to receive SNAP benefits.

There are certain exemptions to this policy: students are eligible if they are enrolled in college less than half-time (as defined by their financial institution), work more than 20 hours per week, are enrolled in a federal or state work-study program, or meet other criteria. For a full list of eligibility requirements, visit the USDA’s guide here.

During the pandemic, the Consolidated Appropriations Act expanded exemptions to students who are eligible to participate in federal or state work study or have an Expected Family Contribution of $0 on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These exemptions are temporary and will expire 30 days after the federal health emergency designation is lifted.

One bill, the Expanding Access to SNAP (EATS) Act of 2021, seeks to make college students eligible for benefits by counting college attendance towards SNAP work requirements. This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in March and the Senate in July. An article in The Counter, a nonprofit newsroom that covers the US food system, called the bill’s chances “slim in a divided Congress.”

It is imperative that students have access to enough food to live a healthy, active lifestyle — and focus on their education. To learn more about food insecurity in college students, check out Feeding America’s research on the subject.


Hunger Action Month 2021: How to take action

Hunger Action Month 2021: How to take action

Looking for ways to advocate for your neighbors this September? Here are some ideas.

By: Emily Gallion, Grants and Advocacy Manager and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer Support/Intake

Hunger Action Month, established by Feeding America in 2008, aims to rally Americans around the issue of food insecurity in America. Feeling stuck on how to participate? Here are some suggestions:

1. Volunteer

With our online volunteer sign-up page, volunteering at The Foodbank has never been easier! We have a variety of activities to choose from, but we have a special need for volunteers to pass out food at our Mobile Farmers Markets and Drive Thru Food Pantry. Sign up today and invite a friend: https://thefoodbankinc.volunteermatters.org/login

 

2. Educate yourself on hunger in America

It can be difficult for some to understand how the wealthiest nation in the world can have a hunger problem — but the hard truth is that over 100,000 people in the Miami Valley experience food insecurity. The story of families living paycheck to paycheck is all too common. After housing, transportation, and utility expenses, there is often not enough leftover to pay for food. By following resources such as Feeding America and the Food Research Access Center (FRAC), you can be more knowledgeable of the ways food insecurity impacts our community.

 

3. Share a #HungerActionMonth post

Education is powerful. We understand that not everyone is able to donate their time or money, but those are not the only ways to get involved during Hunger Action Month. It can be as easy as sharing a social media link to spread the word to your friends that hunger is important! If there’s one thing we know to be true, it is that there are many myths in the food assistance network and we need all the help we can get to debunk them. 

 

4. Make a donation to your local pantry or food bank

Food pantries and food banks both rely on generous donors to keep business running. Whether your donation is food or monetary, it will go directly back into your community to help a family in need. To donate to The Foodbank, please visit thefoodbankdayton.org/donate.

 

5. Contact your local representatives about hunger

Social media and word of mouth are great education sources, we know at The Foodbank that change does not happen in a silo. Reaching out to your local representatives can be the catalyst to making a change. Whether it’s asking for a SNAP increase, additional COVID-19 relief funds, or funding for school pantries, advocating for others truly makes a difference.

 

6. Wear orange

Orange is the official color of Hunger Action Month. By wearing orange you can help spread awareness of hunger and encourage others to also participate. Don’t forget to share a photo on social media and tag @thefoodbankinc! 

 

7. Set up a fundraiser

While it is difficult for us to be together right now, setting up a fundraiser is a great way to keep your organization, office, or team virtually together. Whether it’s a Facebook fundraiser or sites like YouGiveGoods, there are plenty of opportunities for you to make a difference. Leave some fundraiser suggestions for others in the comments below!

 

8. Grow food for you, your neighbors, or food bank

At The Foodbank, we have a 75 raised bed garden full of fresh produce that we grow for the Dayton community. Gardening is a fun and interactive way to get the family working towards a goal. If you want to be a real rockstar, you can even learn how to compost your own food waste to give your garden some extra life!

 

0. Talk to your children about hunger

There are over 30,000 children in the Miami Valley who are identified as food insecure. These children are your neighbors, classmates, and your friends. How can you and your family be advocates for these children? Feeding America has put together a Family Action Plan to assist families in speaking to their children about hunger and how it makes us feel. There are plenty of activities for you and your children to complete together and learn as a family.

 

10. Follow us on social media

Something is always going on here at The Foodbank! Volunteer opportunities, mobile pantries, mass distributions, and fun events are always posted on our social media pages. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIN, and YouTube at thefoodbankinc. 


The Foodbank unveils new Beverly K. Greenehouse

The Foodbank unveils new Beverly K. Greenehouse

The new facility, funded with generous support from the Greene family, will produce an estimated 100,000 heads of lettuce per year

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer/Intake Support

Last week, our Foodbank family was excited to unveil a new 6,000 square foot Beverly K Greenehouse, which will be equipped with an aquaponics system and used to grow plants year-round.

The greenhouse has 800 grow channels and will produce approximately 80,000 plants, mainly heads of lettuce and herb bundles, per year. Lettuce is a crop that is popular among Foodbank clients, but it is difficult to procure due to its short shelf life.

This project is a gift from the Greene family in honor of Beverly Greene, who passed away in 2019 after a long fight with cancer.

“It is an honor to be naming this greenhouse after my mother,” Beverly Greene’s son, Charlie Greene, said. “She cared about our community and instilled strength in people to stand up for what was right. I know she is proud of this dedication that will serve our community fresh food every day throughout the Miami Valley area.”

The Greene family poses in The Foodbank’s Urban Garden after a hard day’s work.

The winter months pose a challenge for our garden, which significantly impacts the amount of fresh produce we are able to grow and distribute directly. Not only will this greenhouse benefit operations here at The Foodbank, but it will help our clients as well. Healthy, fresh items should be available on a year-round basis, not just during the growing season.

Using a hydroponics system, plants will grow without the use of any soil. Water travels through a system of piping and delivers nutrients directly to each plant. Maintaining proper soil conditions during the winter is difficult given the temperature fluctuations, so this method of growing completely eliminates that barrier.

When we first bought this land in 2014, we never envisioned that our city block would turn into the community resource it is today. With projects like the greenhouse, we can teach our community that you don’t need acres of farmland or even 6,000 square foot greenhouses to grow your own food — everything can be done to scale in your own home.

“We feel incredibly honored to keep Beverly’s memory alive through this gift, and to have also made friends with the Greene family,” Michelle Riley, The Foodbank CEO, said. “The Greene family understands and recognizes the need in this community, and they are passionate about food and the environment.”

We are incredibly grateful to have community partners who believe in our mission deeply enough to assist us with projects like this one. HEAPY Sustainability and Energy Services strives to integrate smart technology into environments like ours. They were a key partner in making this greenhouse happen.

“HEAPY is committed to building a more resilient, well, and sustainable society, so we are thrilled to donate our design services to build the Beverly K. Greenehouse and provide healthy, affordable food resources to the surrounding Dayton community,” said Mark Brumfield, CEO of HEAPY.

This vision could not have been possible without the support of our other key partners: Danis Construction; Chapel Electric Company; MSD, INC; CropKing, Inc; AC Elliot; and LL Klink.

 


“Food Pharm” program at Dayton Children’s Hospital addresses childhood food insecurity in-clinic

“Food Pharm” program at Dayton Children’s Hospital addresses childhood food insecurity in-clinic

The program, a partnership between the hospital and The Foodbank, has served almost 1,000 families in the two years since its launch

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer/Intake Support

While all households have been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the worst demands have been placed on families with children.

A study by The Anne E. Casey Foundation detailed the harmful effects of the pandemic on households with children. In September and October 2020, 14% of individuals in households with children reported they sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat. Alarmingly, 34% also reported they had delayed seeking medical care in the previous month.

These figures are a stark reminder that food is a health issue. Prior to the pandemic, families with children in our area already had difficulty accessing enough food to live a healthy, active lifestyle. In 2019, 30,870 children in the Miami Valley were reported food insecure by Feeding America.

Children and adults who experience food insecurity are at higher risk for a host of negative health outcomes. An extensive body of research has demonstrated that children who are food insecure are more likely to be hospitalized, have health concerns such as anemia and malnutrition, and experience mental health issues.

Partnerships between healthcare organizations and community based providers are essential to addressing the intersection between food insecurity and health. One of those partnerships is the Food Pharm program at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Through this program, families with children identified as needing additional food are offered a box of healthy shelf stable food to take home. The Foodbank also supplements the shelf stable food boxes with fresh produce. The contents of the box, which is designed to feed the entire family, were selected by dietitians at Dayton Children’s Hospital. In the two years since its launch, the program has served almost 1,000 families.

Emily Callen, Dayton Children’s Community Food Equity Manager, said that the program has helped Dayton Children’s Hospital to understand the circumstances that lead families to needing food assistance, including natural disasters like the 2019 tornado outbreak, the pandemic, and household financial crises.

“Need arises in so many ways, and everyone is just trying to protect their kids from the realities of their financial struggle and make sure their kids have a meal they enjoy,” Ms. Callen said. “We think our program helps do this for at least a short period of time, while also helping families get connected to longer term resources, so families always have a meal on the table.”

Ms. Callen said she has been able to teach other hospital departments about food insecurity using the program.

“This program allows us to serve the emergency needs of families while they get connected to local food pantries, or other resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC),” Ms. Callen said. “By offering these boxes, it is our hope we can relieve the stress that comes along with food insecurity and help families to focus on whatever medical care they need.”

Moving forward, Ms. Callen is administering a survey to better understand the food needs of the families the program serves. The study will evaluate how well the food boxes meet cultural food needs and inform future food selections. Ms. Callen said, “At the end of the day, if people aren’t eating the food we serve in the boxes, we aren’t feeding hungry people.”

As COVID-19 and the new Delta variant continue to impact families in our community, we will continue to partner with local organizations allied in the fight against hunger. We are grateful to work alongside community organizations, including Dayton Children’s Hospital, that are dedicated to addressing the Social Determinants of Health in our area.

 


Volunteering at The Foodbank: 101

Volunteering at The Foodbank: 101

Everything you need to know before a volunteer shift

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer/Intake Support

Volunteers are the heart of The Foodbank. They are critical to our operations by helping us pack boxes, harvesting crops and maintaining our Urban Garden, and staffing each of our distributions. In March of 2020, due to COVID-19 safety concerns, we had to make the difficult decision to pause our volunteer program. As of July 1, 2021 we have officially relaunched our volunteer program with mask and social distancing requirements in order to keep safety our top priority. We are so excited to see all of your smiling faces again!

Whether you’re a company, organization, family, or someone looking for community service hours, we have plenty of options to choose from! Volunteering at The Foodbank is a great way to make connections and make a direct impact on our community.

We’ve broken down the process in this easy to follow guide, and give you some pointers along the way.

Step one: Logging in and Signing Up

When you visit the Volunteer page on our website, you can see all of our opportunities on our host site, Volunteer Matters.

If you’ve volunteered with us before, you know what to do from here. If you’re new here, you’ll need to create an account so we can get your name, emergency contact, and other basic information from you.

While we accept volunteers of all ages, you must be at least 14 years old to work in our warehouse or drive thru, and anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a guardian. Additionally, we ask that you wear close-toed shoes for safety reasons. 

Step two: Picking Your Event

Once you’ve logged in or signed up, you will be taken to the Volunteer Matters homepage. By clicking on “Project Catalog” on the left hand side, you’ll be able to see all of our events.

Each opportunity has a general description of the volunteer role available. For example, if you decide you’d like to work in our drive thru, click “Learn More” where you can see all of the dates and times available. To sign up, just click “Volunteer!”

A few things to note before signing up for your shift:

  • All mobile pantries are held outside, so please remember to dress for the weather and keep yourself hydrated! 
  • Mass distributions are also outside, usually consisting of longer shifts, but are a whole lot of fun! Dress for the weather and make sure to take water and snack breaks.
  • Warehouse opportunities, the drive thru, mobile pantries, and mass distributions can include some heavy lifting. Though we do distribute lightweight items, please keep this in mind. 
  • Restrooms may not be available at some of our mobile pantry locations.
  • Be sure to wear your close-toed shoes to all volunteer opportunities.
  • Use hashtags #hungerhero and #canyoudigit on any social media posts you make!

Step 3: Coming Prepared for Your Shift

Be sure to arrive on time prepared to work for the entirety of your shift. If you are signed up for a mobile pantry or mass distribution, you’ll need to find our volunteer team to make sure you get signed in. If you’re on site to work in our warehouse, urban garden, or drive thru, you will sign in at the front door. 

After you are signed in, a member of our team will assign you a task depending on which event you signed up for. For example, you could be assigned to the food line handing out various items or helping direct traffic. Our volunteer team is great about making sure you find the opportunity that is the best fit for you!

If you need paperwork signed for required community service hours, make sure to check in with our volunteer team before you leave. 

We always encourage you to ask us questions and learn more about the impact you’re making no matter what volunteer experience you choose. Above all, we want you to HAVE FUN when you’re with us. Volunteering is hard work, but there is nothing better than hearing your laughter while talking to each other and engaging with clients.

Still have questions? Give us a call at 937-461-0265 ext. 27 or check out our Youtube video to learn more.


Federal assistance programs are especially critical for the disabled community

Federal assistance programs are especially critical for the disabled community

1 in 5 SNAP households has a member with disabilities

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer & Intake Support

Despite assistance programs for disabled individuals, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), they are more likely to experience food insecurity than their able-bodied peers. Strikingly, 1 in 5 SNAP households have at least one disabled member.

Studies show that poverty rates are high among disabled Americans. In 2019, the poverty rate for this population was nearly 27%, which was more than twice the rate for able-bodied individuals.

Disabled people also may have difficulties accessing charitable food assistance, including transportation barriers, trouble preparing food received from a pantry, and inaccessible food distribution measures. This can be largely impacted by the type of disability they are living with.

One study from Syracuse University identifies work-limiting disability, physical limitations, and cognitive limitations all increase the risk of food insecurity in their own unique ways.

Those with work-limiting disabilities can use their work history to lean on federal programs like SSDI and SSI. Physical limitations may require more support from community resources like home delivery programs or transportation providers, as their independence may be hindered due to mobility difficulties.

Currently, there are no social programs that address the food needs of those living with cognitive limitations. Memory loss, confusion, and trouble managing money significantly raise the risk of food insecurity in this population.

Federal regulation requires The Foodbank and our partner agencies to ensure equal access for our disabled clients. We also host twice-weekly drive-thru food distributions, which may be a good fit for individuals with mobility issues. 

Despite these accommodations, federal programming, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are especially critical for this population. SNAP allows recipients to purchase food on their own schedule and according to their own preferences or health-related dietary concerns.

It is also worthy to note that food insecurity, for disabled and able-bodied people alike, is a public health issue. One study found that disabled individuals who also experienced food insecurity were more likely to report poor physical health, poor mental health, and underutilization of health care services.

 

SNAP: Strengths and Limitations

SNAP currently includes measures that support individuals experiencing food insecurity. People who qualify for SSI or SSDI automatically qualify for SNAP benefits as well. 

However, not everyone who qualifies for this program receives these benefits. Research indicates that only 68% of people who receive SSI also receive SNAP benefits. The application process for SNAP can be a barrier for this population.

The Foodbank conducts SNAP application assistance to help streamline the process and pre-screen clients for eligibility. Those interested in applying for SNAP are encouraged to call our hotline at 937-476-1486 or fill out the online interest form here

While organizations like The Foodbank that conduct SNAP outreach can help more people access these benefits, simpler solutions exist. Some states have implemented Combined Application Projects (CAP), which help people apply for both SSI and SNAP at the same time. 

Disabled individuals who receive SNAP benefits, or who are 60 years or older, are also able to deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses over $35 from their countable income, which can help them qualify for a higher SNAP benefit. However, this deduction is underutilized: only 9 percent of SNAP households with disabled members claimed this deduction.

According to the Food Research Access Center, there are two major ways this issue can be addressed. One is for organizations serving disabled individuals to conduct outreach to increase awareness of the deduction, and another is for states to implement a Standard Medical Deduction (SMD). 

The SMD provides a standardized amount to individuals who are able to verify expenses over $35 per month. This amount varies based on which state has implemented the policy. The SMD also prevents recipients from having to track every medical expense that may qualify for the deduction, which can be burdensome.

Disabled people and able-bodied people alike can also benefit from the same improvements to SNAP. These include measures that simplify application and recertification processes, provide greater access to prepared foods, and increased benefit payments.

To learn more about how federal food programs can be more inclusive for disabled people, visit Feeding America’s resource here.