University of Dayton engineers working to make food pantry distribution more efficient

Local News

The University of Dayton is finding new ways to make local pantry’s more efficient with a goal of ending food insecurity in the Miami Valley.

“A food desert is simply a place where there is not food access in a certain radius. For a food desert there is a mile radius and if there is not a grocery store in that mile, we consider that a food desert,” said Aaron Hill the community manager at the Dayton Foodbank. 

Between Montgomery, Preble and Greene Counties there are 126,000 people that lack access to food. 

Meaning people don’t know where there next meal is coming from.

One in six Miami Valley residents don’t know where their next meal will come from. 

The University of Dayton is working to get more food into these communities.

“In a previous effort, an engineering management graduate student developed a new set of routes and reduced the trucks travel by 1,000 miles a week. That translates to about 400 meals,” said Kellie Schneider, a professor in the Engineer Management program.

It doesn’t stop there. Not only did UD refine the transportation process to make it more efficient, they are going to it again.

“The fact that we are going to be able to combat this issue is really awesome. Knowing that we are putting more meals on tables for families is really rewarding,” said UD Sophomore Madeline Mock.

Mock and Professor Schneider will take a second look at the food distribution process because the Foodbank is getting more trucks. They plan to continue auditing the Dayton Foodbank to find more efficient ways of getting food into areas that need it. 

There’s a chance UD wouldn’t be making these strides without the Fitz Center for Leadership In Community.

“The work of the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community is work to foster collaboration. To bring faculty, staff and students together with community partners to address issues like food injustice,” said Kelley Bohrer, the director community engaged learning at the Fitz Center. 

UD officials say they have students in deictics, English, engineering, computer science, business, art social services all working on projects related to food insecurity in the region. 

Dayton is currently the 2nd worst city in the nation for food hardship in households with children.

Below are a few of Dayton-area partners that are helping UD fight food deserts. 
Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions
Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm
Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley
East End Community Services
Edgemont Solar Gardens
Five Rivers MetroParks
Greater Dayton Union Co-Op Initiative and Gem City Market
Hall Hunger Initiative
House of Bread
Mission of Mary Cooperative
The Foodbank
St. Vincent de Paul

Want to get involved? You can donate food, money or your time at any food pantry in Dayton. They will take all the help you can give. 

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