Foodbank gets needed food supplies to community during pandemic

The Foodbank in Dayton will start to receive thousands of boxes of produce, meat and dairy through a federal program.

The program, called Farmers to Families, was announced by the USDA in April and will distribute up to $3 billion of agricultural products to people in need through nonprofits and food banks. The USDA will work with regional and local distributors to get fresh meat, dairy and produce. Distributors had to bid to get into the program.

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The Foodbank in Dayton will get about 30,000 boxes a month through the program, said Lee Lauren Truesdale, chief development officer.The Farmers to Families program will run through December, Truesdale said.

Farmers to Families will get supplies from local distributors who have been affected by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other industries because of the coronavirus pandemic. The distributors that will be supplying The Foodbank with these boxes are Eby-Brown Company and I Supply Company, both in Fairborn.

Food pantries around the state have seen higher volumes of people in need since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. According to figures from The Foodbank, about 40% of people going through the line are new to the charitable food assistance program. The Foodbank went from serving about 800 people at a drive-thru pantry in March to serving about 1,200 people at most distributions.

“If you’re used to going to the grocery store and purchasing what you need for your family and all of a sudden you’re unable to do that, and you have to wait in a line and have to almost publicly say ‘I need help, I can’t feed my family,’ that’s really difficult for people,” Truesdale said.

In April, food banks were concerned about running out of food.

“We won’t have to worry about running out of anything because of this,” Truesdale said. “This is just one additional thing to help folks in need right now. A lot of people are experiencing hunger for the first time right now. While our lines have maybe gotten better, they’re still not great, people are spending all their savings just to keep everything afloat.”

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Truesdale said The Foodbank in Dayton has started to get the first load of boxes.

Boxes will vary, Truesdale said. The Foodbank could get a box of dairy product in one shipment or a box of pork and chicken in the next. The majority of boxes will go to The Foodbank’s partner agencies. Whatever is left will be distributed via The Foodbank’s drive-thru pantry.

“We’re excited to be in this program,” Truesdale said. “This will be a great addition.”

Normally The Foodbank would spend about $500,000 making wholesale purchases. Truesdale said their normal supply streams dwindled in March and April, so The Foodbank started sourcing in different methods, like calling canneries and buying directly from them.

Truesdale said in the summer months The Foodbank typically sees an abundance of fresh produce.

If families are not getting the Farmers to Families boxes, they will be getting some equivalent with different produce, bakery items or some different variety of protein.

“It’s a variety of product that people are familiar with,” Truesdale said. “The hope is that this humanizes the emergency food assistance network for people. And we ensure people can get what they need in this critical time.”

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