Ohio foodbanks call for more National Guard assistance

By: - November 30, 2020 12:50 am

The All People’s Fresh Market in Columbus, Ohio on July 28, 2020. (Brooke LaValley/ Ohio Capital Journal)

Ohio foodbanks have seen unprecedented demand during the coronavirus pandemic — demand they say they couldn’t have met without the help of the Ohio National Guard.

Now, as the pandemic enters its most dangerous phase that help is about to dry up and the foodbanks are calling on the Trump administration to do something.

“As we all draw close to a Thanksgiving marked by public health advisories and isolation, Ohio’s foodbanks are finishing their final holiday food distributions this week,” Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said in a statement. “Hundreds of thousands of Ohio families continue to struggle with record levels of food insecurity as the pandemic’s grip on local economies and household well-being tightens.” 

She praised Gov. Mike DeWine for assigning the Guard the task of helping out at volunteer-strapped foodbanks and for calling on the feds to continue funding that mission.

That help is sorely needed as federal unemployment supplements and other assistance have dried up in the absence of congressional action. 

The most recent Household Pulse Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that from Oct. 28 to Nov. 9, more than 1.1 million Ohioans often or sometimes hadn’t gotten enough to eat over the previous seven days. That’s almost 10% of the state’s population — and it represents a 36% jump over the period spanning Oct. 14-26.

“On behalf of Ohio’s foodbanks, we are deeply troubled that the need for emergency food assistance remains so significant, but deeply grateful that the Ohio National Guard continues to work diligently each day side-by-side with our foodbank staff as our volunteers largely stay home for their safety,” Hamler-Fugitt said. “We urge FEMA Administrator (Peter T.) Gaynor, OMB Director (Russell) Vought and Acting DOD Secretary (Christopher C.) Miller to approve this request so that we can continue to fend off as much hunger for as many people as possible as this crisis continues.”

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Marty Schladen
Marty Schladen

Marty Schladen has been a reporter for decades, working in Indiana, Texas and other places before returning to his native Ohio to work at The Columbus Dispatch in 2017. He's won state and national journalism awards for investigations into utility regulation, public corruption, the environment, prescription drug spending and other matters.

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