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Ohio National Guard To Assist Local Foodbanks

Foodbanks are ramping up emergency food distribution during the Coronavirus crisis.
Jess Mador
Foodbanks are ramping up emergency food distribution during the Coronavirus crisis.

On Wednesday Governor Mike DeWine signed a proclamation authorizing the Ohio National Guard to assist food banksdealing with staffing shortages due to the coronavirus. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, along with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, had requested the assistance.  

In his coronavirus update on Wednesday, the governor addressed rumors circulating about the National Guard.

“Sometimes people think calling out the National Guard means that they come and they have guns, and they’re going to do some military operation,” he said.

He said the National Guard would in fact be assembling tents at hospitals and giving out meals at food banks.

The Foodbank in Dayton will receive 25 Ohio National Guard personnel to assist at the site beginning Monday. 

Lee Lauren Truesdale, Chief Development Officer at The Foodbank, said all staff members over the age of 60 or who live with someone who is immunocompromised are working from home. Because of those precautions, The Foodbank is down about one third of its in-person staff.

On top of that, more families are showing up to collect food. On a typical day, the drive-through pantry serves 150 to 200 families. Last Friday she says they served around 500 families. 

“Even under normal operating circumstances, capacity is a struggle for us,” she said. “Having this extra manpower onsite when we're down so many staff members already will be critical.”

The drive-through pantry is well-suited for the requirements of social distancing. Clients coming to the food pantry do not even have to roll down their windows, they can simply hold up their IDs while a staff member takes down their information. Then food can be loaded into the trunks of cars without any contact. 

But Truesdale says traffic control can be a challenge, and that is something the National Guard personnel will be able to assist with. They will also help out with warehouse operations, prepping food for packaging and distributing it to clients.

Find out more about food assistance at The Foodbank on their website or by calling (937) 461-0265.

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