Record-breaking demand at The Foodbank continues in week seven of pandemic

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The coronavirus pandemic continues to increase the demand at food pantries. At every distribution, hundreds of families continue to show up needing these services, many for the first time ever.

Lee Lauren Truesdale, the Chief Development Officer at the Dayton Foodbank, said for the drive-thru distribution on Wednesday morning, some people showed up three hours before the distribution even started, and this is seven weeks into the pandemic. So, she said this illustrates the continuous need they’re seeing.

On Wednesday morning, cars wrapped around the Dayton Foodbank as members of the Ohio Army National Guard filled up trunks and back seats with enough food for a month.

“COVID-19 is hitting everyone pretty hard right now, so many people are out of work and can’t go to the grocery store, so I’m really so glad the Ohio National Guard is being proactive in helping out the food banks,” said Harold Owens Jr., a member of the Ohio National Guard who has been helping at the Dayton Foodbank for almost seven weeks.

Truesdale said another new normal is the hundreds of new families they see every distribution. She said they had 3,600 food boxes packed two weeks ago but they can give out up to 800 in two hours so every day, they are packing more.

“Some distributions we’re seeing about 450 to 500 individuals, that seems to be a pretty constant number for us,” said Truesdale. “Other days we’re busier, seeing upwards of 800 families coming through the drive-thru every two hours.”

Before the pandemic, she said their average was about 200 people per distribution.

Truesdale said as Ohio begins to open back up, some people are going back to work, but she said many families will feel the impact for months. So the Foodbank has to prepare their supply for an uncertain future.

“Folks who were previously living in poverty or close to it are the folks that will continue to need the Foodbank’s help 18 months or two years after this ends,” said Truesdale. “Sometimes when you’re living in that type of situation and barely making ends meet, one loss of a paycheck, that can really take a toll on your financial capability.”

For safety reasons, Truesdale said they are not taking any food donations from the general public, but they are accepting monetary donations. She said every dollar donated creates six meals, which will be needed.

“We have a lot of food so we’re doing okay in terms of food that’s coming in, but we have to be thinking six months into the future,” said Truesdale. “What’s this going to look like in six months, what will people be needing then? There might be a resurgence of the virus then as well.”

Truesdale said the coronavirus has not only increased their demand but decreased their supply.

“Normally during the Spring, we have a couple of ongoing food drives that provide quite a bit of poundage here and those have been cancelled,” said Truesdale.

So they’re relying on the community and monetary donations to help them navigate this uncertain future.

If you are interested in donating to the Foodbank, on Thursday, WDTN is coming together with our fellow Nexstar stations for a virtual telethon to feed food banks across Ohio.

For every dollar you donate, the Dayton Foodbank can provide assistance where it is needed most.
Tune in to WDTN for the number, and take part in Coronavirus Response, feeding Ohio, on Thursday at 4 p.m.

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