Second Harvest needs volunteers as Ohio National Guard completes pandemic assignment

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SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) — Friday afternoon, Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine visited a food distribution at Second Harvest Foodbank to thank the national guard members for their service.

“For over a year they’ve filled the absolutely critical roll in making sure that Ohioans who didn’t have food had food,” DeWine said.

Tyra Jackson, executive director of Second Harvest Foodbank, said since the pandemic began, and even now, the need for food is serious across the area.

“We’ve seen an increase of about 60 percent in the number of people that we were serving. While it went down a little bit over the last couple of months, it’s actually starting to increase again,” said Jackson.

“I’ve heard just about everyone’s story about what they’ve gone through,” said Dylan Jacques, an Ohio National Guard member who has worked to deliver food to more than 300 families.

“Before COVID happened [people[ used to be able to come in through the [foodbank] door and serve themselves,” explained Jacques. “But since COVID happened, I take whoever happens to drive up and personally interact them and get them whatever they need.”

DeWine said he plans to make sure there are funds to keep Ohioans from going hungry. “We’re going to use what funds are needed to make sure that food is available. If there’s a need in the future, we have the ability to use some of those federal dollars.”

Friday’s food distribution was the Ohio National Guard members’ last day of service on this assignment. Many of them are returning to their original bases and assignments. To thank them, the DeWines, joined by their dog Dolly, passed out brownie treats and books.

“The fact that the guard is leaving is a sign that we’re getting back to normal,” said DeWine. “This is what we want, we should look at this as a victory.”

Second Harvest said now that the guard members have left, they need volunteers.

“People are still in need,” said Jackson. “While the numbers are going down a little bit, it’s going to take people a while to recover from the pandemic. So our services are still needed, and we’ll still need people to assist us.”

For more information on volunteering, click here.

For more information on food distribution at Second Harvest Food Bank, click here.

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