Local nonprofits work to meet spike in demand for meals

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Montgomery County officials say the COVID-19 pandemic has food insecurity on the rise as more families turn to local non-profit organizations for meals.

Before the pandemic, 17 percent of Montgomery County residents were considered food insecure, according to Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County. But now, that number continues to rise.

Cars lined up again outside the Dayton Foodbank Wednesday. The numbers show a dramatic increase in the number of families coming to the organization’s drive-thru since the shutdowns began.

“Normally outside of our emergency operations, we’re seeing upwards of 200, maybe 250 [families] on a busy day,” said Lee Lauren Truesdale, chief development officer. “Right now, we’re seeing at our highest point over 600.”

And that’s just within a two-hour time frame, Truesdale said.

The Foodbank’s drive-thru is open three days this week instead of the usual two. Most of the families in line are new to the Foodbank, Truesdale said.

“We know this will last in the long term,” Truesdale said. “So folks maybe who a few years ago were struggling and maybe they have landed on their feet recently, this is really going to set those folks back for quite some time.”

“In the last couple of weeks, things have changed dramatically,” said Melodie Bennett, executive director of the House of Bread in Dayton, which is serving hot lunches daily for carryout.

Bennett told 2 NEWS her organization has seen a decrease in overall visitors – but a huge spike in new ones.

The House of Bread has also seen a decrease in donations, she added.

“I think the greatest impact for us was when the schools were announced that they would be closed,” Bennett said. “We saw a huge decrease in our food donations for about the next ten days.”

The House of Bread may expand its hours if needed, Bennett said. She remains optimistic her team will be able to meet the anticipated demand.

“I’m worried,” Bennett said. “I’m nervous about what’s coming. But our community has pulled through a lot.”

Both the Foodbank and the House of Bread are accepting monetary donations. Donations of food from the public are not being accepted at the Foodbank, Truesdale said.

The next drive-thru at the Foodbank is set for Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, Truesdale said. A distribution is also planned for 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the Henny Penny campus in Preble County, she added.

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