Closing out a historic fiscal year at The Foodbank
Amidst the ongoing recovery from the 2019 tornado outbreak and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Foodbank distributed more food than ever before
By: Emily Gallion, Grant and Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Development Manager
Despite an unusually challenging year, The Foodbank was able to distribute 17,884,642 pounds of food in our 2020 fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.
Over one third of the food distributed by weight was fresh produce. With it, we were able to provide food to 116 partner agencies in our three-county network and serve a total of 935,404 people.
It’s hard to believe over a year has passed since the 2019 Memorial Day tornado outbreak. The storm left over $1 billion in property damage and at least 1,800 without homes. While the disaster struck a month before the beginning of the fiscal year, recovery has been slow, and the destruction is still visible in many parts of our community. Read about our tornado relief response here.
It’s even harder to believe that just one year after the storm, our community would be living through a mass shooting and a pandemic. It has been a challenging year, but we are honored to have been able to serve our community through it.
Here are some highlights from the past year at The Foodbank:
Drive Thru fills critical gaps in COVID-19 response
A line of cars forms outside The Foodbank’s Drive Thru Food Pantry on a rainy distribution day.
Our on-site drive thru was built in 2018 as an accessible distribution site for our Senior Box Program. While we saw potential in the drive-thru to expand our distribution capabilities, we didn’t know just how critical it would be in our disaster relief efforts.
Early March was an extremely difficult time for us at The Foodbank. The spread of COVID-19 and mandatory social distancing measures forced us to rethink nearly every aspect of our operations.
We typically host Mobile Farmers Markets at 27 different sites each month, but the high attendance at these events makes social distancing difficult to enforce. Sadly, we had to suspend these distributions for nearly three months.
Additionally, we could no longer visit our 18 Senior Box distribution sites due to safety precautions at the living facilities. With all of these operations canceled, we were left with one way to get food out of the building and onto the tables of our community — our on-site Drive Thru Food Pantry.
Immediately, we saw attendance rates spike to levels we have never seen before. Before the pandemic began, our Drive Thru was averaging about 200-300 households per distribution. That number skyrocketed to 600-700 households per day, peaking at a record breaking 750 households on April 22nd.
This was an incredible year for the Drive Thru, which served a total of 37,249 households and distributed 3,467,113 pounds of food. It is an essential service that aids in our confidence that Miami Valley residents can always turn to us no matter the circumstance.
Mobile Farmers Markets distribute record-high number of meals despite COVID-related cancellations
Like nearly all aspects of our operations, our Mobile Farmers Market program was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We were forced to temporarily suspend our Mobile Farmers Markets March 12 to limit the spread of the virus.
After developing a plan to enforce social distancing, which included additional staffing to keep our families six feet apart, we were able to reopen on a limited basis starting in June.
After carefully evaluating each Mobile site to ensure our ability to enforce social distancing and reach all areas in our territory, we selected 11 sites to reopen first. We are continuing to evaluate the course of the pandemic as well as food insecurity projections in our area to determine our next courses of action.
While our almost three-month closure certainly affected our metrics, this has still been a very successful year for our Mobile Farmers Market program. Through this program alone, we were able to distribute a total of 1,848,453.7 pounds of food to families in our three-county service area — an increase of 73,990.5 pounds from the previous year!
We would like to thank our generous donors and volunteers for supporting our work in the past year. Last year, a total of 5,414 volunteers spent 13,600 hours with us. We couldn’t do it without your help! Follow our social media accounts @thefoodbankinc for future announcements on volunteer opportunities. While we are still not allowing volunteers on-site due to the severity of the pandemic, we hope to see you all soon.
It has been a record breaking year here at The Foodbank and we are hopeful for what the future holds. This year has challenged us in ways we never thought possible and proven our true resiliency as a team and a community. If you want to read more about our service area, hunger statistics, or our economic impact, visit our Tri-County Impact Statement on our website.