Foodbanking in the time of COVID-19

Foodbanking in the time of COVID-19

Pandemics disproportionately affect the people in our lines. Here’s what we’re doing to help.

By: Caitlyn McIntosh, Development Manager, and Emily Gallion, Grant and Advocacy Manager

Last week, concerns about COVID-19, a form of coronavirus, reached a fever pitch as the Ohio Department of Health announced the state’s first three positive cases. Since then, efforts to contain the pandemic led to school closings, orders to limit public gatherings, and even the suspension of voting in the state of Ohio. 

For weeks, the health and well-being of our clients, staff, and volunteers has been at the forefront of our minds as we monitor the spread of this pandemic. We have had to make very difficult choices to suspend or modify many of our offsite services, but we are making every possible effort to make sure our clients have access to the food they need.

In these trying times, we would like to commend the leadership of Governor Mike DeWine, who has made strong moves to limit the spread of the virus. Many early actions, including the closures of schools, bars, and restaurants, have provided a model for other states trying to respond to the epidemic. We are glad to see our leaders taking this virus seriously.

Background on COVID-19

COVID-19 is a form of coronavirus, a family of viruses that are zoonotic, or transmitted between animals and people. Coronaviruses have been responsible for deadly outbreaks in the past, including MERS and SARS, but COVID-19 is a new strand thought to have originated from bats. Many initial infections were traced to a large market in Wuhan, China.

Seniors and people with pre-existing conditions are at a heightened risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of this disease, but people of any age can become sick with or transmit the virus. According to the CDC, early data suggests that seniors are twice as likely to have a serious illness because of the virus.

This reality became chillingly clear when COVID-19 swept through a nursing home in a Seattle suburb, causing the deaths of 18 residents. Older adults are at an increased risk due to weakened immune systems and the increased likelihood of pre-existing conditions. The National Council on Aging stated that “age increases the risk that the respiratory system or lungs will shut down when an older person has COVID-19 disease.”

Families with small children can take comfort in the fact that, unlike influenza, COVID-19 does not seem to cause a serious threat to children. In fact, children and young adults are more likely to carry the disease with no symptoms at all. However, these populations should still take part in healthy practices as they could transmit it to someone else who may not have a strong immune system.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to that of the flu virus and the common cold. Both viruses are potentially dangerous to high-risk populations, and individuals who experience difficulty breathing should seek emergency treatment regardless of known COVID-19 exposure.

What does this mean for people in our lines?

One risk factor for the disease may not be immediately apparent: Analysis of past disease outbreaks, such as influenza, reveals that pandemics often disproportionately affect people who are living in poverty. 

One study of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak found that, in Oaklahoma, 26 percent of white individuals who contracted the virus needed hospitalization, compared to 55 percent of black patients and 37 percent of indigenous patients. 

In many ways, this is common sense: People with low incomes are more likely to work part-time jobs that do not offer benefits such as paid sick leave and healthcare. People living in poverty and people of color are also more likely to live in areas with high population density, which increases the likelihood that they will be infected.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than one third of private-sector employees in the lowest wage category have access to paid sick leave

Luckily, employees whose employment is affected by the outbreak may be eligible for additional unemployment relief. This will be especially important for employees of the restaurants, gyms, bars, and other businesses that have been ordered to close. 

Workers who are required to self-isolate will be eligible for unemployment benefits even if they do not test positive for the virus. Many restrictions on unemployment benefits, including the usual waiting period for benefits to kick in, have also been waived.

Workers who need to apply for unemployment benefits can file online at unemployment.ohio.gov

This pandemic is a stark reminder that almost half of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, which means a loss of income due to quarantines or business closures can be catastrophic. It also decreases these households’ ability to stockpile food, water, and other necessities.

School closures are also incredibly disruptive to families’ day to day life, as workers who cannot afford childcare may be forced to stay home. Closing schools can also impact children’s cognitive development at an extremely crucial stage in life.

Encouragingly, many school districts have already begun to offer carryout school meals. Governor Mike DeWine confirmed on March 13 that the United States Department of Agriculture approved Ohio’s waiver to allow carryout meals in school.

So, what are we doing about all of this?

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it may be difficult trying to follow the constant news updates and safety precautions. At The Foodbank, people are the most important resource, so it is our duty to ensure that we are serving our vulnerable populations in the safest way possible. 

Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 has a tremendous impact both on the population we serve and our own operations.

Due to Governor Mike DeWine’s orders of limiting public gatherings to less than 100 people, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel our mobile food pantries for the time being. Clients are actively being guided towards our weekly drive thru pantries.

To meet any additional needs due to the cancellation of our mobiles, we have expanded our drive thru operations to running three times a week. Additionally, we moved to serving families once a month in effort to keep up with high demand. 

Since the outbreak of the virus, our drive thru went from serving an average of 350 families per day to over 400 per day. As news changes by the day, we are always looking for ways to update our services with the community’s safety in mind.

We have made the decision to target low-income seniors with this box program because they are the population at highest risk for death or serious illness as a result of this virus. We also know that many of our seniors are homebound or on a fixed income, which makes it more difficult for them to visit the supermarket or stockpile emergency supplies. 

Because we have had to suspend offsite distributions of our CSFP boxes, we have added additional drive thru distributions to serve those clients directly at our warehouse. Seniors enrolled in the program can visit our drive thru March 24 or March 26 between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm to pick up both their senior food boxes and their additional COVID-19 emergency boxes.

If you are looking for a way to help out, The Foodbank is still actively seeking volunteers. We currently have an increased need due to high demand in the drive thru and the volume of emergency boxes we are trying to package.

If you want to volunteer at The Foodbank, please make an appointment prior by calling (937) 461-0265 x31. We are enacting several safety measures to protect our volunteers, staff, and clients, including:

  • Limiting walk-in traffic to The Foodbank by locking our doors
  • Taking the temperature of all volunteers and staff who enter our building
  • Requiring all volunteers to wash their hands prior to the start of their shift
  • Asking volunteers and staff not to bring outside food into the building
  • Asking any volunteers over the age of 60 to stay home

Thank you donors!

It is always heartening to see our community come together at difficult times such as that. We would like to extend our thanks to the people who have volunteered or donated in the past several weeks. In times like this, every little bit counts.

We would especially like to thank Caresource, who committed $128,000 in funding to provide additional food boxes to our at-risk seniors currently enrolled in our CSFP program. This funding will be used to prepare 1,200 boxes, each of which will contain enough food to last 14 days. We hope these boxes, which we are currently building and distribute, will help this high-risk population practice social distancing in the coming weeks.

To follow along with The Foodbank’s response efforts, follow us on our social media channels @thefoodbankinc and our website for further updates. 


Encouraging Someone to Help Others

Encouraging Someone to Help Others

An Interview with Megan Broom

Written By: Aniqa Ahmed, Advocacy Intern of The Foodbank, Inc.

Megan Broom began volunteering at The Foodbank, Inc. in 2018 as part of a school project that helped fulfill a 25 hour volunteer credit requirement.  One year and over 100 hours later, Megan is still giving her time by helping out in the warehouse and for off-site events. What stood out to Megan there was a real feeling of “good” surrounding the culture of the organization. When she says that, she not only means the act of community service, but also that the staff and volunteers are welcoming, encouraging, and knowledgeable, noting, “No organization is perfect, but it’s hard to find flaws in their operation.”

Growing up in the middle-class suburb of Kettering, Megan was fortunate enough to have an amazing support system where food insecurity had never been an issue. However, she was encouraged to help someone who needed a meal. In her own words, Megan believes, “Eating together builds trust. Cooking together creates bonds. I’m happy to have spent time with an organization which helps to provide the means to such outcomes.”

Megan is currently working for Patchwork Gardens, a local chemical-free farm in Trotwood. She has always been interested in learning how to grow her own food and what it takes to do so on a larger scale. When Megan first started volunteering with The Foodbank, Inc., she was informed that Patchwork Gardens donates excess produce to The Foodbank, Inc. She then started volunteering on the farm and was hired on for the 2019 growing season.  She states, “The connection between the two organizations means a great deal to me,” thus influencing her decision to take the position at Patchwork Gardens.

Megan exclaims, “I don’t believe people can be expected to perform if they are hungry – children can’t learn; adults can’t work. So, for me, The Foodbank, Inc. is an example of the community helping itself to thrive.”

September is Hunger Action Month, Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks’ awareness campaign designed to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger. Hunger is a reality for 1 in 6 of our Miami Valley neighbors. Together, we can end hunger one helping at a time. Every action counts, so visit us on social media @thefoodbankinc to learn how you can get started.

 

 

 


The Foodbank to Unveil New Composter

The Foodbank to Unveil New Food Waste Project on 11/20/19

 

The Foodbank, Inc. invites the media to an unveiling event on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 2 pm in the Urban Garden located at The Foodbank.

The Foodbank, Inc. is committed to reducing food waste and lowering carbon footprint, and this new technology is a large step in that direction. It will also be used as an educational tool for the community on how to dispose of food waste and repurposing it in an eco-friendly manner. This project was made possible through funding from the Ohio EPA, The Kroger Foundation. Tom Greene, President and CEO of Greene Tool Systems, will provide photography of the unveiling.

 

Speakers: Michelle L. Riley, The Foodbank, Inc.

Angel Arroyo-Rodriguez, Ohio EPA

Van Calvez, Green Mountain Technologies

 

Where:                                     The Foodbank, Inc., in the fenced-in garden area

56 Armor Place

Dayton, OH 45417

 

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The Foodbank relieves hunger in the community through a network of partner agencies by acquiring and distributing food. Food and related supplies are distributed to a network of pantries, community kitchens, shelters and other charitable programs, all of which support the health and development of food insecure individuals in the Miami Valley. Through our over 100 member agencies, The Foodbank distributed over 16 million pounds of food last year. There are 116,720 food insecure individuals in our area, 33,770 of which are children.

 


The Aftermath of the Dayton Tornadoes

The Aftermath of the Dayton Tornadoes

by Aniqa Ahmed, Advocacy Intern

The night of May 27, over a dozen tornadoes ripped through the Dayton Area. The storm, with winds reaching 140 mph, left many families displaced and without electricity, water, and food.

The Foodbank, Inc.’s response began at 5:30 am the following day with Charles Martin III, Service Center Manager, and Michelle Riley, CEO, strategizing how they would get mass amounts of water to the areas most affected. The organization, already flooded with donations from the community, opened its doors by 8:00 am for water distribution. The next day, The Foodbank, Inc.’s onsite drive thru stayed open the entire day to distribute emergency food and water. The heavy traffic flow would continue through mid-July.

The week after the disaster, The Foodbank, Inc. hosted over 1,000 volunteers to help with various aspects of food and water distribution. In the aftermath, the organization provided millions of bottles of water and hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and personal supplies to the community. The team worked days on end distributing these products to Dayton residents in need of relief.

This was not the first time The Foodbank, Inc. helped with disaster relief. The organization was originally a Red Cross operation called the Emergency Resource Bank. And, since becoming a stand-alone nonprofit in 2004, The Foodbank, Inc. has provided aid across the nation in response to disasters. When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August 2017, the organization jumped into action, collecting and sending water and supplies to foodbanks in the affected area. This experience with disaster relief helped the team as they worked to make sure every individual’s needs, from water to food and hygiene products, were met. To learn more about The Foodbank, Inc.’s work in disaster relief, click here.

September is Hunger Action Month, Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks’ awareness campaign designed to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger. Hunger is a reality for 1 in 6 of our Miami Valley neighbors. Together, we can end hunger one helping at a time. Every action counts, so visit us on social media @thefoodbankinc to learn how you can get started.

 


Volunteering for Hunger Action Month and Beyond

Volunteering for Hunger Action Month and Beyond

Written By: Aniqa Ahmed, Advocacy Intern for The Foodbank, Inc.

 

It is no doubt that volunteers are the backbone of The Foodbank, Inc. Because of their consistent dedication and their enduring passion, The Foodbank, Inc. is able to fulfill its mission of relieving hunger in the community through a network of partner agencies by acquiring and distributing food.

Sean Mitchell has been The Foodbank’s Volunteer and Marketing Manager for two years. Each year, with the help of our volunteers, we are able to send 1,500 kids weekend meals each  week, provide 1,100 seniors a box of food each month, and participate in 30 mobile food distributions a month, just to name a few. After 14 devastating tornadoes hit the Miami Valley this past May, a whopping 1,018 Daytonians responded immediately, volunteering their time and efforts. These volunteers did everything from packing and sorting food donations, to assisting in the drive thru pantry, and writing love notes to those affected by the tornadoes. Last year, The Foodbank distributed 16 million pounds of food with nearly 8,400 volunteers assisting us.

The Foodbank, Inc.’s vision is that no one should go hungry. Volunteers give The Foodbank, Inc. the confidence to start new projects, because the community always seems to step up and help make vision a reality. The Foodbank, Inc. strives to educate our community and make volunteering as easy and efficient as possible. By having the number of volunteers we do, we are able to stay on top of our hunger relief efforts as well as say “yes” to new opportunities. To learn more about volunteering or how to get involved, click here!

September is Hunger Action Month, Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks’ awareness campaign designed to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger. Hunger is a reality for 1 in 6 of our Miami Valley neighbors. Together, we can end hunger one helping at a time. Every action counts, so visit us on social media @thefoodbankinc to learn how you can get started.


Canstruction 2019 – Call for Entries