DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With the coronavirus pandemic causing a wave of food insecurity and economic fallout, many families have begun seeking food assistance. 2 NEWS spoke with Chief Development Officer at The Foodbank in Dayton, Lee Lauren Truesdale, about trends she’s seen locally. She said the number of people participating in The Foodbank’s drive-through distributions skyrocketed when news of the pandemic became widespread, but now, conditions look more promising.
“March was a busy month, April was by far our busiest. But really since then, we’ve started to see things stabilize a little bit.”
Truesdale said there may be a few reasons why the number of visitors is beginning to taper off, even with the pandemic still spreading locally and nationally.
“A lot of folks are back at work. Not all folks, but a lot of them are back at work,” Truesdale explained.
She added, the slowdown could also have come as a result of the organization’s partnering nonprofits reopening, offering more job security and food supplies locally. But she said the numbers tell a more accurate story of the pandemic’s overall impact, with data between March and July of 2019 showing that 55 percent of visitors to The Foodbank received assistance from them only once, compared to more than 63 percent this year. She said this number may even be too low, since electronic signatures were not required this April like they were last year.
Truesdale explained, “What we think [this is] telling us is that we had a lot of folks during the pandemic and even now, ongoing, who are first time emergency food need users.”
She added, even though the number of families receiving food resources from The Foodbank is dwindling, staff is preparing to respond to community needs if there’s another surge later in the year.
“I really don’t think we’re out of this first round of COVID,” Truesdale said. It’s continued, of course, well throughout the summer and will also into the fall and winter months, and so we’re really taking stock in that. We’re watching what’s going on in the community, what’s going on nationally and even globally and understanding that when flu season gets here, we might see another wave of economic turmoil.”
She added, while planning for additional resources is underway, The Foodbank will continue offering fresh, healthy options during the fall.
“We know that fresh produce is an expensive item, sometimes beyond a family’s food budget. So having those items available for families during this time while they may be staying at home quarantining, or while their children are learning from home still for these first nine weeks of the school year, [we’re] really trying to make those items available for families so they can continue to provide healthy food for their kids and of course for their entire family as well.”
Truesdale said The Foodbank recently began accepting donations again, so families and organizations are welcome to collect canned goods and nonperishable items that will feed families in the community. To learn more about donations or how to access food assistance, click here.