One of the driving forces of the world’s hunger is not the lack of food, but the abundance food waste that happens every single day. Approximately 15-30% of food in emerging economies is wasted. Each year billions of pounds of food go to waste, while 1 in 4 people are malnourished.
So who connects those who don’t know where their next meal will come from to the overflux of food from our super markets and restaurants? The answer is food banks. Food banking systems capture surplus food and deliver it to the people who need it most, engaging all sectors of society (governments, business, and civil) in the process. Donated food comes from farms, manufacturers, distributors, retail stores, consumers, and other sources, making it available to those in need through an established network of community agencies.
The Dayton Food Bank is one example of these amazing organizations - and is also an Ohio Benefit Bank site, connecting people in need with the services they can use to lift themselves out of desperate situations. Lora Davenport, Community Relations Manager of The Foodbank, Inc., told us more about how life at the Food Bank operates.
What does a day at the Dayton Foodbank look like? The Foodbank acquires food and distributes it out to people who are in need of food through a network of 108 food assistance agencies like pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties. Last year, 11 million pounds of food was distributed through these agencies – that’s enough to put over 25,000 meals on tables every day! The food is acquired from grocery stores, the USDA, Ohio farmers, food drives, and wholesale purchases. Along with this main mission, The Foodbank also has a senior box program, distributes kids’ weekend meal packs, grows veggies in its 40 bed garden (2.5 tons of produce from this so far this year!), and gives out fresh produce and bakery through a mobile farmers market at sites for seniors with limited mobility and at sites where pantries need help filling the need.
What is the community like at the Foodbank between workers, volunteers and people who use the services? Why do you think establishing that community has been so successful in Dayton? The Foodbank has 31 employees and relies on nearly 3,000 volunteers each year. The volunteers alone put in 13,300 hours of hard work! Along with this, 108 member agencies rely on food from The Foodbank to help feed the 124,000 people (16.8% of the population) in our service area who are hungry. Over 60 different grocery stores donate to The Foodbank on a weekly basis. We cannot do what we do without the support of all of these people/organizations and the community! As a city, Dayton has recognized hunger issues as a top priority and has rallied around The Foodbank to get the word out and help in many ways. We also have the support of U.S. Ambassador Tony Hall, a former Ohio Congressman, who is helping spread the word.
Lately, the Foodbank has been extra-active as the southern part of the country is battered by hurricanes - what has that been like and why is it such a necessity for foodbanks, who already have such an important job at home - to give aid to communities so far from theirs? The Foodbank is part of a local, state and national disaster relief effort, working in conjunction with local and state Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD)/ Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) groups. When people are in need of food and water, we are the boots on the ground. The Foodbank has sent five semi trucks full of water and supplies to Texas and will be sending at least four to Florida. As a community, we in Ohio’s Miami Valley arevery generous, and this is our local response to those who need help from the devastating storms.
Foodbank Dayton is also an Ohio Benefit Bank site, can you tell me what it means to those coming to use the food bank that they can also apply for vital aid at such a welcoming and friendly place? Emergency food assistance is just the beginning. The Foodbank is looking at how we can shorten the line, and Ohio Benefit Bank is one way to do this. It gives people a chance to connect with the community and apply for extra assistance as they look to get back on their feet. Many of The Foodbank’s member agencies are OBB sites to offer our neighbors in need an extra hand.