The 2022 Year in Review

The 2022 Year in Review

Evolving to meet changing needs

By Amber Wright, Marketing Coordinator

 

As 2022 draws to a close and the new year waits just around the corner, it is a great time to look back at our progress. Quarantines and other COVID-19 emergency protocols are coming to a close, but communities still struggle to mitigate the long-term effects of the pandemic. We have remained committed to our mission of alleviating hunger in the community through existing programs while also forming new partnerships to meet the changing needs of the neighbors we serve.

 

The Foodbank Programs

We have continued to support our communities with programs that target specific gaps in services. We send mobile pantries to high-need areas that often do not house pantries of their own. Since January, we have sent out 250 of these mobiles, averaging about 21 a month.

Our weekly, onsite Drive-Thru Produce Pantry has also remained in effect since it was opened. Operations originally began as a disaster relief measure in response to the Memorial Day tornadoes, and later the COVID-19 pandemic. For the fiscal year 2022, we served 650,843 neighbors and distributed more than 15 million pounds of food. Almost 4 million pounds of that was fresh fruit and vegetables, an integral part of a healthy diet often inaccessible to those experiencing hunger.

Another program that has continued to meet gaps in services is our Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides monthly shelf-stable food boxes to food-insecure seniors. These boxes contain shelf-stable food tailored to the needs of aging adults. The Foodbank distributed 11,624 of these boxes in fiscal year 2022.

The Good-to-Go Backpack program, which we continue to operate in partnership with some Dayton Public Schools, provides kid-friendly snacks for children in food-insecure households to take home over the weekend. A personalized “love note” with words of encouragement is always included in each of these bags. In the last fiscal year, we provided nearly 33,000 of these backpack bags.

The Foodbank’s Urban Garden continues to thrive. This year it has produced 7,191 pounds of fresh produce, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, okra, pears, cucumbers, pumpkins, and more. The compost program has diverted 74,018 pounds of food spoilage from the landfill, cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions and providing rich nutrients for our garden beds. The eliminated carbon footprint is equivalent to 44,952 passenger vehicles driven for one year!

Many of our neighbors found themselves out of work and unable to pay for food or other critical necessities, causing lines at hunger-relief organizations to increase dramatically. We aided our remaining partners in meeting that need by providing food free of charge. We have continued to do that amidst the current year’s record inflation, supply chain issues and rising costs for food and fuel.

As a result of these policy changes, our partner agencies have had the time and support needed to regain their footing. We have slowly begun stepping away from our role as emergency disaster relief by scaling back our Drive-Thru distribution to its normal frequency.

 

Expansions at The Foodbank

Demands on hunger-relief organizations have increased significantly in recent years and The Foodbank has expanded to meet those needs. Our original building was designed to hold a maximum of 15 million pounds of food, but in fiscal year 2021 we distributed more than 17 million pounds. When we started distributing more food than our warehouse was designed to handle, we immediately made plans for building expansions.

In January 2022, the construction of a 6,000-square-foot building expansion was completed. This became our new volunteer area, dedicated to sorting and packing food for programs such as CSFP and Good-to-Go backpacks. It also allowed room to house and sort shelf-stable food donations for distribution.

More recently in August of 2022, we finished the construction of a brand-new freezer and cooler. Approximating 4,700 square feet, this has doubled our storage capacity for fresh foods. This allows us to store and distribute healthier forms of nourishment like meat, dairy, and produce.

Another noteworthy addition is a 30,000 square foot parking lot, granting us a designated space for volunteers to park on the property along with our new team members.

 

New Programs and Partnerships

This year has brought new programs and partnerships as we continue to adapt to life post-COVID-19. The pandemic demonstrated the importance of collaboration when building the social safety net, which we will continue to strive for in years to come. In 2022 we have teamed up with several organizations and introduced new programs to meet evolving needs.

One such partnership is with the well-known food delivery service DoorDash. In March, we teamed up to deliver emergency food boxes and fresh produce to neighbors experiencing transportation as a barrier to food assistance. It has since expanded to deliver CSFP (senior) boxes to program participants who are shut in.

Expanding on our efforts to alleviate childhood hunger, we have partnered with Edison Elementary of the Dayton Public School system, which opened a pantry on campus to aid food-insecure students and their families. Another school has already begun the process to do the same.

We also started working with 10 branches of the Dayton Metro Library in Dayton, Miamisburg, Huber Heights, Vandalia, and Trotwood. These locations are now partners that distribute emergency food boxes to neighbors in need.

Another notable partnership gained this year is with the Keener Farms Charitable Organization (KFCO).  This new charity purchases cattle from local farmers and processes it into ground beef to be distributed to our neighbors. This is particularly helpful during a time of soaring meat prices, which hinders the ability of some of our neighbors to access adequate protein for their diets.

Other efforts have been made to address negative health outcomes often tied to hunger or poor diet. Premier Health has joined Dayton Children’s Hospital in screening their patients for food insecurity. Those that test positive are screened for a monthly food box and directed to our other services. We also partnered with Diabetes Dayton, the only local charity that does outreach for the chronic illness which is also commonly linked with food insecurity.

We have launched new initiatives within our own organization as well.

As treatment centers, halfway houses, and sober living continue to emerge, so does a new kind of need. There has become a pool of people living in residential centers as they continue to seek help for mental health issues, drug/alcohol addiction, and other ailments. It is common for this part of the population to be without transportation, restricted from leaving, or tied up with required classes, rendering them unable to access any of our services when SNAP dollars are not able to stretch far enough. In response, we started a program for case managers to be able to pick up emergency food boxes as needed. This alleviates the strain on case managers and tackles food insecurity among the neighbors they assist.

The Beverly K. Greenehouse in our Urban Garden is a new development that recently had its first anniversary. November 3rd marked one year since the first lettuce seeds were planted. It has been used to grow roughly a dozen varieties of lettuce year-round. To date, we have harvested roughly 30,000 heads of lettuce, which we distributed to our partner agencies and directly to our neighbors in our weekly Drive-Thru.

We have also embraced new Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) transformational initiatives. A two-day Racial Equity Matters workshop by the Racial Equity Institute was provided for all staff. Our goal is for all Foodbank employees to better understand racism in its institutional and structural forms. Moving away from a focus on personal bigotry and bias, this workshop presented a historical, cultural, and structural analysis of racism. The Foodbank also retained a highly respected local EDI consultant to assess our organization and help us align our work with our in-house EDI initiatives.

 

Moving Forward

Our organization has adapted to several major challenges within the last few years, including natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recently, a challenging economic climate. These all presented unique barriers, which we were able to overcome. The ability to pivot and adapt has allowed us to reshape our services to meet the need and we will continue to do so as long as the need exists.

Moving forward, we plan to take a more holistic approach to address food insecurity. Our focus will expand more on the conditions which cause people to seek food assistance. We have formed new partnerships with organizations outside of the hunger relief network and will strive to keep doing so over the next few years so we can address the issue of poverty in more comprehensive ways.

As always, we remain committed to the pantries, shelters, meal sites, and other local agencies that we partner with. Our original mission of acquiring and distributing food will remain our top priority.

 

Special thanks to our partners, who make our work possible!

The Foodbank, Inc. Partner Agencies

              • AFL-CIO Labor Pantry
              • Abundant Season Pantry
              • Apostolic Lighthouse Church
              • Aspire Church
              • Belmont United Methodist
              • BOGG Ministries
              • Camden FISH
              • Catholic Social Services
              • Central Christian Church
              • Common Good Pantry of Preble County
              • Community Action Mission Program (CAMP)
              • Dakota Center
              • Daybreak
              • Dayton Christian Center
              • Dayton Children’s Medical Center
              • Dayton Cooks!
              • Dayton Metro Library (10 branches)
              • Diabetes Dayton
              • Downtown Dayton Initiative-GESMV
              • Emmanuel Lutheran Church
              • Emmanuel SVDP Conference
              • Evangel Church of God
              • Expressions of Life, Inc.
              • Fairborn FISH
              • Fairview United Methodist Church
              • Family Violence Prevention Center
              • Fellowship Tabernacle
              • First Baptist Church of New Lebanon – Village Pantry
              • First Dawn Food Pantry
              • FISH Southeast
              • FISH Wayne Township
              • Five Rivers Health Centers
              • Food 4 Families
              • Foodbank Mobile Markets
              • Girls on the Run
              • Go Ministries International
              • Good Neighbor House
              • Goodwill Easter Seals – Miracle Clubhouse
              • Greater Galilee Baptist Church
              • Greene County FISH Pantry
              • Greenmont Oak Park Church -Neighbor to Neighbor Pantry
              • Harmony Creek
              • Harris Memorial CME Church
              • Have a Gay Day, Inc.
              • Hearth Community Place
              • Homefull
              • House of Bread
              • Ignited Missions
              • Jamestown UMC
              • Lewisburg Area Outreach
              • Liberty Worship Center Helping Hands
              • Maranatha Worship Center
              • Marketplace Movement Pantry
              • McKinley United Methodist Church – Helen Brinkley Pantry
              • Memorial United Methodist Church – MUM Food Pantry
              • MVHO – Miami Valley Housing Opportunities
              • Miami Valley Meals
              • Miamisburg Helping Hands
              • Carmel
              • Njoy! Njoy!
              • Northeast Churches
              • Northmont FISH
              • North Riverdale Church
              • Northwest Dayton (SVDP)
              • Precious Life Center
              • RCCG Dominion Center
              • Shepherd’s Hand’s – Brookville
              • Shiloh Church UCC
              • South Fairborn Baptist Church – Lifting Up With Love Pantry
              • Spring Valley United Methodist Church
              • John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
              • John’s UCC
              • Mary’s Church – SVDP
              • Paul United Methodist Church
              • Peter RC Church
              • SVDP – DePaul Center
              • SVDP – Gateway
              • SVDP – Safe Haven
              • SVDP – Supportive Housing
              • Storehouse Food Pantry – PFI
              • Thrive Together
              • O.P.S
              • Trinity Lighthouse Church-TLC
              • Triple C Community Outreach
              • United AME Church
              • United Community Brethren
              • Vineyard Christian Fellowship
              • Volunteers of America
              • Wayman AME
              • Wesley Community Center
              • With God’s Grace
              • With God’s Grace – Free Store
              • Xenia Nazarene – Kinsey Food Pantry
              • YMCA of Greater Dayton
              • YWCA of Dayton
              • YWCA Preble County Shelter
              • Zion Baptist Church

The long shadow of the “welfare queen” narrative

The long shadow of the “welfare queen” narrative

The majority of public benefits recipients are white, but racist narratives harm benefits access for low-income people of all races.

By Emily Gallion, Grants & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager

Some misconceptions about public assistance are easily debunked: Fraud rates in these programs are extremely low, the majority of people who receive assistance are white, and most participants who can work do.

It is more difficult to address the racialization of government benefits discussions. This is because policies such as work requirements that may seem racially neutral first appeared in a much different context.

Many lawmakers made little effort to hide the intent of these policies. Early resistance to public benefits programs included concerns about the economy, which was reliant on low-wage Black laborers.

As one lawmaker said, “I can’t find anyone to iron my shirts!”

In this blog, we will tackle the difficult history of public benefits access for Black households — and how stereotypes about low income people of color have led to policies that are harmful to people of all races.

Demonization of Black Welfare Recipients

Particularly in the South, states added restrictive policies in the 1900s to prevent Black families from accessing aid programs. Some states restricted aid to domestic or agricultural workers, which were predominantly Black. Louisiana limited aid to families during cotton picking season.

As a result, 90% of Black women laborers were initially ineligible for unemployment and Social Security programs, and two thirds were still excluded a decade later, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

Some of the worst examples of discrimination in public benefits programs come from the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program, created in 1935 to support children living in poverty. This program had origins in mother’s pensions for widows and would later develop into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Many restrictions to the ADC originated from racist ideas about Black women, especially Black mothers. Some of these included so-called “man-in-the-house” or “suitable home” policies, which targeted Black and unmarried mothers. 

For example, in the three months after Louisiana restricted ADC funding to children whose mothers were “unsuitable” for unmarried sex, 95% of the 6,000 children removed from the program were Black.

Lawmakers expressed particular concern that Black women would have more children solely to increase their benefits. One man, Mississippi State Representative David H. Glass, stated, “The negro woman, because of child welfare assistance, [is] making it a business, in some cases of giving birth to illegitimate children.”

Rep. Glass also introduced a 1958 bill in Mississippi to order sterilizations of women who gave birth to children while receiving benefits. The state of Ohio is one of several to consider similar forced sterilization policies.

The Welfare Queen Myth

These derogatory narratives about Black women appeared more recently in the “welfare queen” hysteria of the 70s. During Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, he spoke of a “woman from Chicago” who earned $150,000 a year from government checks.

This woman was a real person named Linda Taylor who did receive nearly $9,000 in benefits by using fraudulent names and addresses. Ms. Taylor was a biracial woman with a complicated personal history. Her all-white school expelled her at age 6. At age 14, she gave birth to her first child. Several psychiatrists and lawyers stated that she experienced mental illness and seemed incapable of telling the truth.

This is not to present Ms. Taylor as an innocent victim — some historians also believe she committed a variety of more severe crimes, including kidnapping, child abuse, and even murder. However, she never faced prosecution for any of these suspected crimes. Media coverage of her life focused on her welfare fraud instead.

In total, the county spent $50,000 to convict Ms. Taylor. Her story was amplified to foster the belief that welfare fraud was widespread — in reality, just 1 percent of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare’s annual budget was lost to fraud and abuse, with the majority of ADC mispayments originating from simple mistakes.

A Lasting Legacy

These ideas — that poor people, especially people of color, are lazy, deceitful, and require harsh penalties to coerce them to work — persist in our public benefits system today. TANF, which replaced ADC, still includes language about marriage and unplanned pregnancies that calls to memory the “man-in-the-home” policies of the original program.

Stated Goals of Temporary assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Ohio’s TANF program, Ohio Works First (OWF), is difficult for people living in poverty to qualify for. Families can receive OWF for a maximum of three years (lower than the federal standard of five years. To qualify, a family’s gross income can only be 50 percent of the federal poverty level. This is $630/month ($7,560 annually) for a family of three. OWF recipients are subject to strict work requirements with no exception for adults who are ill, pregnant, elderly, or responsible for childcare.

Due in part to these requirements, over 80% of cases in Ohio are child-only, which typically means the child is living with a family member who is not their parent. According to the Center for Community Solutions, Ohio is second in the nation by number of child-only families, behind California but ahead of New York.

While stable, long-term income is a worthwhile goal for people living in poverty, there is little evidence that work requirements in public benefits programming accomplish this. Analysis of multiple studies by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that work requirements ultimately do not reduce poverty — and some families fall into deeper poverty while participating in these programs.

It’s true that work requirements in programs such as TANF and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) do result in modest initial gains in employment. However, these employment increases are not enough to lift families out of poverty. They are also generally not sustained long-term and do not address barriers such as health issues and childcare.

Work requirements disproportionately impact people of color. They are more likely to experience challenges like high local unemployment, transportation barriers, and poor physical and mental health. This, along with alleged bias by caseworkers, may be why people of color are significantly more likely to be sanctioned for work requirements.

Research also shows that people who lose benefits due to work requirements meet conditions that should make them exempt. One study of Tennessee’s TANF funds found around 30 percent of sanctions were made in error.

SNAP also comes with work requirements, which some counties in the state of Ohio are exempt from due to high unemployment rates. These counties are predominantly white and rural, despite that areas with highest rates of unemployment are typically Black and urban. 

This is because the state of Ohio administers exemptions at the county level, obscuring pockets of high unemployment within counties. According to analysis by the Center for Community Solutions in 2018, 97% of people living in exempt counties were white. 

The same report determined that seven Ohio cities that could qualify for the exemption were home to 40 percent of Ohio’s Black population and over half of Black Ohioans who live in poverty.

Closing Thoughts

It is particularly cruel to characterize people of color as dependent on government assistance when these same programs contain racialized language and policies. While these policies disproportionately impact people of color, efforts to weaken safety net programming harm all people living in poverty.

We support policies that help the people we serve to live a healthy, active lifestyle. We couldn’t do this work without programs like SNAP and TANF. It is our hope that we can implement policies that treat people living in poverty with dignity and respect.

For up-to-date information on policies such as SNAP, you can sign up for advocacy alerts from our partners at the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and Feeding America.