By Amber Krosel
Editor’s note: This guest post has been provided by Dayton personal injury law firm Dyer, Garofalo, Mann, & Schultz, which helps residents in Montgomery County and beyond with legal claims for product liability, nursing home abuse, workers’ compensation, Social Security and disability, and more.
After two years, the community served by The Foodbank in Dayton is really starting to dig into its new urban garden. The 40-bed garden grows fresh fruits and vegetables that are later donated to 23 sites in the tri-county area. Food grown is given to local pantries and shelters at no charge; recipients just have to make at or below 200% of the poverty line to access it.
The garden has come a long way since its small start in milk crates. Now, it’s on a blacktop at The Foodbank property and has its own manager, a master gardener, who helped grow 2,000 pounds of food last year. The most popular offerings have included lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and herbs, but people who benefit from the garden also always love hardy potatoes, while others enjoy more vibrant options, like eggplant and mustard or collard greens.
James Hoffer, Master Gardener, started off as a volunteer 18 months ago at The Foodbank in the original garden and has been working the past six months as the manager in the new space. Gardening was always a passion of his since spending countless hours on his grandparents’ 2-acre plot from the time he was in diapers to growing up learning how to care for the land, animals, and plants that inhabited his World War II veteran grandfather’s garden sanctuary.
Hoffer decided to become a master gardener after inheriting his grandfather’s seed collection when he passed away, some of which had been in the family for over a century.
“I wanted to work in this particular urban garden because of the mission The Foodbank strives toward,” Hoffer said. “The idea of growing food to feed hungry people and sharing the knowledge with others is the most rewarding way I feel I can honor all the lessons I had been taught.”
And Hoffer is spreading that gardening joy through these lessons. A high school group, for instance, is building an aquaponics center for The Foodbank, which helps gets these students out of the classroom and learning more about healthy food and how it helps our residents in need. Other volunteers take part in helping with The Foodbank’s mobile farmers market, which visits places where people with disabilities and seniors live.
Senior hunger is something that is increasing in the area as more baby boomers are retiring, and their retirement funds aren’t able to cover everything. Food stamps, if they receive them at all, don’t cover much of their needs, especially if they have to pay for medicine, housing bills, and anything else that comes along with aging.
And it’s not just seniors that need this help. Nearly 124,000 people in the tri-county area have trouble with hunger, with 36,650 of them being children, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap. Family hunger also isn’t just about children who are going hungry — oftentimes, local programs will help kids, such as a box given to those in kindergarten through third grade to make sure they don’t go hungry over the weekend, but they only have enough food to help the child.
A lot of pantries out there can help the whole family, and all of us are looking for new ways to better serve them. That’s where the urban garden comes in.
The Foodbank is inviting the community to help grow its urban garden, both its actual crops and its size, eventually. While last year The Foodbank saw 2,600 volunteers, many assisting with the mobile farmers market, we could use much more help in the garden. One of the biggest challenges is getting consistent and knowledgeable volunteers who stick around, Hoffer says, as the garden relies heavily on volunteers to grow the produce.
“While most of them are enthusiastic, including the college students, many have little or no experience. I am always happy to share what I know with beginners, but they are typically only here a few times and we start over with more beginners,” Hoffer said. “Having a core group of consistent volunteers for the growing season would definitely ease some of this challenge in growing the maximum amount of produce in our garden space.”
Hoffer said that while the garden can’t grow year-round, they do use some extension methods to get nine or 10 months of good production. That’s plenty of opportunities to help most of the year.
Love the idea of fresh produce and want to try your hand at growing your own? Hoffer offers some tips:
- Join an established urban community garden. You’ll likely find some knowledgeable people who would love to share the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
- If you decide to grow in your own backyard, start small and only with a few crops. That way, you can expand as your base of knowledge does.
- Hot tip: You can grow almost any fruit or vegetable in Ohio except for the tropical varieties. Some of the easiest to start with are tomatoes, beans, carrots, lettuce, and peppers.
Good luck! And if you’d like to volunteer, visit thefoodbankdayton.org/take-action/.
When Jennie Freiberger was diagnosed with Fybromyalgia in 2008, she began exploring ways to relieve her stress as it aggravates her condition. Doodling has helped her relax, but she didn’t know what to do with all her drawings. For the past 8 years, she would just throw out her doodles…
Until she learned of The Foodbank’s Good to Go Backpack program! Now she sends in dozens of her doodles every week to help kids in the Dayton area feel loved when they receive their weekend food packs.
In our three-county service area, there are 41,000 children who face food insecurity. Each week, Foodbank volunteers build packs full of food to help sustain the children through the weekend. These packs are then given to schools and agencies, who in turn, give them to children they see have a hunger need. Agency and school staff place them in backpacks when the children are out of the room.
The best part of a packed lunch (besides the treats of course!) is that encouraging note someone cared enough to leave for you. On the roughest, toughest days, sometimes a little reminder that you are special gives that needed boost.
If you’d like to make notes:
- Grab a small index card (any design is fine- we use 3×5 but you can use larger if you prefer)
- Pick-up your favorite crafting supplies (stickers and markers are our favorites)
- Write an encouraging note and decorate it. Our favorite messages are :
- You’re fantastic!
- Give Peas a Chance!
- Reach for the Stars!
- Get it to our warehouse so we can pack it in the lunch bags. You can drop it off in person or mail it to us at The Foodbank, ATTN: Backpack Notes, 56 Armor Place, Dayton, Ohio 45417
We provide the notes to kids from all backgrounds. Please avoid any political or religious references. We’ve also found that glitter gets stuck to food so if you like the sparkely stuff- try glitter glue so it stays stuck.
For the second year in a row, DPL Energy Resources wanted to say “thank you” to customers during the holiday season by sponsoring a matching campaign with us at The Foodbank. Thanks to the generosity of DPL Energy Resources customers, and a matching donation from the company, we were able to raise $ 40,776, enough to deliver 163,104 meals for local families.
DPL Energy Resources’ customers along with the general public were invited to donate money in support of The Foodbank and the 103 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters we serve in a tri-county area. DPL Energy Resources matched donations (up to a total of $15,000) from November 6 through December 4 of 2015. Through the match, a $10 donation provided 80 meals to the hungry in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties.
Over the years the face of hunger has changed. Families rely on their local pantries to put food on the table while parents work two or three part time jobs to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads.
“DPL Energy Resources is truly a Hunger Hero,” says Michelle Riley, CEO of The Foodbank. “We could not do this important work if not for the support that they provide. With 130,200 people who don’t always know if they will be able to put food on the family table, The Foodbank relies on the support of the community as we work towards our mission of feeding hungry people throughout the Miami Valley. We are so thankful for the support of everyone who gave and for DPL Energy Resources for matching the heartfelt donations of our donors.”
About DPL Energy Resources
DPL Energy Resources is a retail electric provider, serving the needs of 126,000 residential and commercial electricity customers in Ohio. In early 2016, DPL Energy Resources was acquired by IGS Energy. Now a part of the IGS family of brands, DPL Energy Resources continues to provide their customers with smart energy options at a competitive market-based cost.
STAR Touring & Riding Dayton Chapter 325 is hosting a fundraiser at Waffle House in Miamisburg this Saturday from 2 to 9 pm to benefit The Foodbank. Invite your friends and family to come and have a good time! Be sure to tell the server you are there for Spirit Night. Enjoy your meal knowing you are helping to feed others!
- Where: Waffle House at 2959 Miamisburg-Centerville Road (Rte. 725), Miamisburg, OH 45342
- When: Saturday, September 13 from 2pm to 9pm