DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – According to the USDA, the need for food assistance across the country has been decrease=ing since the spring. However, experts in the Miami Valley say that’s not what they’re experiencing in the Dayton region.
Lee Lauren Truesdale, chief development officer at The Foodbank in Dayton, said, “Earlier this summer, there was a report released from the USDA that really said that at this point in time during the pandemic — we’re about a year and a half in — that food insecurity has declined, particularly among households with children, and we’re not seeing that here.”
Truesdale said they’ve seen a 30% increase in services rendered to community members across Montgomery, Greene, and half of Preble County. That number is even higher among families with children.
Jesse Reed, director of CareSource Life Services, said there are a handful of reasons for that, the first of which, started before the pandemic.
“I think something specific to Dayton, something that doesn’t get talked about a lot is that the 2019 tornadoes that came through. And that was a very traumatic, devastating, impactful event in our community. Very literally wiped out people’s homes, wiped out apartment complexes.”
He said now, some families who were already struggling to get back on their feet have been derailed due to circumstances associated with COVID-19.
“All the social determinants of health, they’re all so intertwined,” said Reed. “Food insecurity, housing insecurity, unemployment, there’s really no way to unravel those. They’re all intertwined and intermingled.
Mike Zimmerman, public information officer for Montgomery County’s business services, said while there are more jobs opening than being closed down at this point in the pandemic, he and other experts believe finding a job that suits individual needs is often the struggle.
“When you get a job, especially a new job, there are new sets of worries that you have to kind of think about and think through and really plan about, such as childcare, getting back and forth to work, affording gas, maybe it’s a bus pass situation,” said Reed.
Zimmerman said these factors, plus the recent end of federal unemployment assistance may have contributed to higher food needs. However, there are options for those facing difficulties.
“We’re gonna feed those folks… and we’re going make sure that they have what they need because at the end of the day, they might be caring for someone [and] we have no idea what their situation is,” said Truesdale.
And if you are struggling to find work, Zimmerman said Montgomery County is working to recruit for a variety of positions across multiple industries.
“We’re working with 70 companies right now,” he said. “And in those companies, that’s almost 1400 jobs,” he said.
If you would like to reach out for food, jobs or other assistance, you can call 2-1-1 and someone will help connect you to resources.