FAIRBORN — A food distribution event hosted by the Foodbank April 21 at the Wright State University Nutter Center fed 1,381 local households, or approximately 4,500 individuals.
The Foodbank Chief Development Officer Lee Lauren Truesdale said The Foodbank opened in 1976, but the mass distribution event that took place April 21 was the largest in its history.
“What that shows is that there’s a real need in this area,” she said. “Ohio has a high unemployment rate at the moment. No one plans for a pandemic, emergencies [happen and it impacts the community.] It’s difficult to make ends meet, especially families who are without work and pay.”
Truesdale observed the first car line up at approximately 7 a.m. Before distribution of the goods began, traffic had clogged up roadways leading up to the Wright State Nutter Center. Families were asked to avoid lining up before 9 a.m., but every individual who got in line by 12 p.m. would receive food.
Distribution recipients were served by 20 employees of The Foodbank, 30 National Guard members and a handful of volunteers. Truesdale highlighted that normally, 150 volunteers and 31 staff members of The Foodbank hand out food during distribution events. Wright State reported that it has partnered with The Foodbank for the last six years to host the mass food distribution event, but it typically takes place in the summer months and serves approximately 600-800 households.
No plans are currently in-motion at to host another mass food distribution event, but Truesdale highlighted it was something The Foodbank would need to work through, particularly ensuring that there are enough National Guard members on-site to assist.
“We planned that within a week and a half,” Truesdale said of the April 21 event. “Normally it takes about one month to plan.”
The Foodbank utilized a no-contact method of food distribution and social distancing practices were in place. Every volunteer had their temperature taken upon arrival, and they all wore masks, gloves and stood far enough apart from one another.
“Social distancing is not easy, but it’s starting to feel more normal,” she said.
The Foodbank receives food from multiple sources. Truesdale highlighted that it receives approximately 2 million pounds of food every year from retail store donations, and is able to buy produce through wholesale purchases made possible by funds made available by the State of Ohio. The Foodbank also engages in a food buy-back program that enables it to provide dairy and meat. It also benefits from local canned food drives.
Truesdale said retail donations declined in March due to consumers buying more food, and The Foodbank is currently unable to accept food donations due to COVID-19. However, The Foodbank is still getting by.
“We don’t have an excess, but we have just enough,” she said, adding that the variety of food is not as wide as it normally is.
Visit thefoodbankdayton.org/donate/ to make a monetary donation. Truesdale highlighted that monetary donations are used to purchase food stock, as well as boxes.
“With everything so uncertain, make sure to cover your own bills,” Truesdale said when asked how individuals can help The Foodbank through the pandemic. “And check on your neighbors, family and friends.”