Local food banks try to keep up with demand for food distributions

Posted at 5:35 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 18:51:12-04

LORAIN, Ohio — With more Ohioans out of work because of the economic impacts of the coronavirus, demand is skyrocketing for food distributions and local food banks are trying to keep up.

For hours, hundreds of people waited in lines on Black River Landing in Lorain Wednesday afternoon for boxes of free food.

“Our cupboards are bare,” Bren Dunnigan, of Lorain, said.

“Everybody wants their money and they want it now, you know? And it leaves very little left in the bank. Can’t get stuff you need with no money.”

Dunnigan lives with four other family members and since the pandemic it's been hard to make ends meet.

“Depressing, stressed out, anxious days. Ready for it to be over with,” she said.

Those feelings of hopelessness brought her to Wednesday’s distribution organized by the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.

“Not used to coming to a food bank,” Dunnigan said.

Samantha Flores, program and member services manager with the food bank, says they’ve been hearing that a lot lately.

“Distributions that used to be about 75 families are now in the hundreds consistently,” Flores said.

The food bank typically feeds around 85,000 families a year, but as those numbers at distributions increase, they’re expecting to feed 95,000 just this month alone.

They’re relying on food deliveries from various sources, like the USDA, the Ohio Food Program, and the Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program.

“Food banks around the state are able to help farmers get that surplus product out of their fields and into the hands of community members,” Flores said.

Flores says keeping up with the growing need is a worry for Second Harvest, but she says they have a plan for the long-term.

“From the beginning, we’ve been doing this as a marathon, not a sprint,” she said.

“We know this will be around for a while, if not the COVID-19, then the economic impact of COVID-19.”

Second Harvest Food Bank is not accepting food donations from the public, but they are encouraging people to make monetary donations.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.