Vehicles wrapped around the outside of the University of Dayton Arena on Tuesday morning for at least a quarter of a mile each direction on Edwin C. Moses Boulevard for a drive-thru mass food distribution and wellness event.
The Dayton Foodbank Inc. organized the event — estimating they would reach about 1,300 to 1,500 families in the Dayton area — with the help of nearly 200 volunteers from CareSource employees and board members, along with on-site wellness services provided by Premier Health.
“Clearly there’s a lot of need, and it’s just amazing — everyone here volunteering their time to come out and help make a difference in a lot of families’ lives,” said Erhardt Preitauer, president and CEO of CareSource, on Tuesday. “It’s an honor to be a part of this, and this is our mission at work here.”
The Dayton Foodbank officials said they have seen the need for food increase in the area, but it is has not increased to the point they saw when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Need is all over the place,” said Lee Lauren Truesdale, chief development officer at the Dayton Foodbank.
The Dayton Foodbank plans these mass food distribution events at critical times. Truesdale said area people in need have been struggling to recover from the Memorial Day tornado outbreak of 2019, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, increased costs due to inflation, and now back-to-school season.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 12.6% of people in Ohio live in poverty in the state of Ohio, and approximately 14.7% of people in Montgomery County live in poverty. The median household income in Montgomery County is $53,064 and the per capita income is $31,146.
The Dayton Foodbank aimed to offer those coming to the food distribution event with fresh food to help supplement their meals.
“We have a wide variety of product today,” Truesdale said. “Our main goal is we try to provide expensive items—fresh produce, lean meats, lean dairies, whole grains—items that are expensive and that (take up) a large proportion of a family’s food budget.”
The Dayton Foodbank is one of 12 foodbanks in the state, serving Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties.
“We have the sixth highest reported need of all 12 foodbanks in the state,” Truesdale said. A little under 100,000 people report experiencing food insecurity in the area.
The Dayton Foodbank has been holding mass food distribution events for over a decade and continues to partner with CareSource employees and board members who volunteer to hand out food at the event. CareSource officials said they have partnered with the foodbank since 2013.
“They have great compassion, great heart. They show up, and they make this work happen alongside us,” Truesdale said about CareSource.
Tuesday was the Dayton Foodbank’s last mass food distribution of the year, but they will be holding five miniature food distributions throughout the rest of the year.
“There are multiple places to go to get food. This is just one part of what we do,” Truesdale said. The Dayton Foodbank also supplies over 100 nonprofits with food to serve the communities those nonprofits serve directly. Truesdale said anyone who missed Tuesday’s distribution event can find the Dayton Foodbank on social media or at their website at thefoodbankdayton.org for more information on finding their local food pantries.
State Senator Steve Huffman from Tipp City was at Tuesday’s food distribution. .
“The Dayton Foodbank does a wonderful job getting the food out to the families that need it,” Huffman said. “I think it’s wonderful the number of CareSource employees that are out here supporting this cause.”
Dayton Mayor Jeffrey J. Mims, Jr. also noted the support local agencies provided the foodbank and those in the area in need.
“We continuously have more and more partners in this community like CareSource that’s working together (with organizations like) the foodbank in this community to address and serve the needs of the Dayton citizens,” Mims said. “It’s a reflection of the hard work that we put in together.”
Mims cited the tragedies the Dayton area has faced, such as the Oregon District shooting on Aug. 4, 2019, saying, “Each time there’s a tragedy, our community gets stronger and stronger in terms of how they work together.”
About the Author