One out of six people in the Miami Valley do not know where their next meal is coming from and 79 percent of people who use the Foodbank’s services are in poverty
Gabrielle Morrow, Staff Writer
Dayton Foodbank is a food warehouse that serves the needs of those who are food insecure.
“The Foodbank will ensure that food relief is available in our service area to all hungry people,” according to The Dayton Foodbank CEO, Michelle Riley.
The Dayton Foodbank stems from a larger idea from Feeding America, which is the organization that supplies the food given to the Foodbank. The food given from Feeding America goes to Foodbanks and other food pantries around America — which is then distributed to 60,000 different programs that feed the hungry, which comes to about one in seven Americans, according to Feeding America.
Locally, the food from the Dayton Foodbank goes to about 106 other non-profits in the Miami Valley area who then serve those who are need.
“Food insecurity is best defined as lacking consistent access to food at all times due to barriers that often include lack of financial means. In our community there is often a confusion between food insecurity and food access,” Lee Truesdale said, development and grants manager at the Dayton Foodbank.
One out of six people in the Miami Valley do not know where their next meal is coming from and 79 percent of people who use the Foodbank’s services are in poverty, according to Truesdale.
“You can’t just look at someone and know if they are in need, that’s why we don’t like to question our clients,” said Truesdale.
Between Montgomery, Greene and Preble counties, there are 123,910 people who are food insecure — which is 16.8 percent of the population of these three counties, Truesdale said.
“These people face the harsh reality that most of the time they have to make the impossible decision of paying for food rather than paying for their utilities, rent, medical care and transportation,” Truesdale said.
Lee sometimes gets to take a break from the warehouse to go out to some of the non-profit locations and help feed these people in need. She is interested seeing those who are affected by food insecurity and poverty, because no person looks the same even though they are all in the same situation.
“When giving people their meals, most people are incredibly grateful, but you get that there is a sense of urgency in these people,” Lee said. “I don’t know how else to describe what I mean, but these people seem almost worried about what’s next for them. Also, people can be picky eaters and we understand that and encourage that! No person should have to feel restricted and everyone should feel comfortable.”
Lee explained that the people she meets are so friendly and grateful, that you would never expect that they live such an opposite life of you. The Foodbank’s mission is to make life easier on these people in poverty and those who are food insecure and make sure these people should never go hungry.
One recent way the Foodbank is making things easier is the opening up a drive-thru pantry. This drive-thru will be used to distribute senior CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Box Program) boxes, according to Lee. This program will be open to senior citizens aged 60 years or older.
“I think in time the drive-thru may morph into other things as well, maybe a drive-thru full service pantry. I don’t know yet, but that’s what is great about us here at The Foodbank — we are incredibly flexible and that helps us make sure we are meeting the needs of the community,” Truesdale said.
The Foodbank plans to open this pantry in January 2018.
“Even the littlest gestures and the smallest amounts of money donated can really impact how these people survive.”
Dayton Foodbank agrees there is a poverty crisis in Dayton, and they hope to be a solution by creating more accessible ways of getting food.
It used to be that most of their clients were middle class people affected by the job crisis several years ago, but now they are seeing a lot less middle class and more generationally poor, Truesdale said.
“These people struggle to get out of what they were raised in. We are likely to keep seeing this [generational poverty] for many many years,” Truesdale said.
There are certain things that citizens of Dayton can do to help this food insecurity crisis from growing. One of these things is the donation of money
“Donating food is great! But we really strive for getting money donations because one dollar equals four meals,” Lee said.
If someone is interested in donating money they can do so online through the Foodbank website.
Being an advocate is another way that citizens of Dayton can help those who are in poverty and are food insecure.
“Any person can be an advocate, but especially college students. Whether they realize it or not, many college students are food insecure,” Truesdale said.