The money comes from the Ohio Save America Act.

COLUMBUS, OH – EDITOR’S NOTE: The story was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal

Faced with the prospect of a harsh winter, the Ohio Association of Food Banks is applauding Gov. Mike DeWine’s decision to give them $15 million in unused federal coronavirus funds to buy protein-rich food for their clients. .

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Supply bottlenecks, rising fuel costs, commodity inflation and farm labor shortages have limited food banks’ ability to meet growing demand. Those factors, along with the USDA’s sharp food cuts in August, prompted Ohio Food Bank Association Executive Director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt to say that food “going out is much faster than going in.”

And because of the bottlenecks, Hamler-Fugitt said agencies need the money quickly because the month-long deadline means orders must be placed immediately to ensure delivery before winter. On Monday, she issued a statement in which she praised the decision to contribute part of the state’s unspent funds to help with the coronavirus.

“Today, Governor Mike DeWine renewed his commitment to supporting Ohio agriculture and feeding Ohio families by providing $15 million from the Ohio Save America Act to support the Ohio Agriculture Cleanup Program,” Hamler-Fugitt said. “These funds will be used by the Ohio Association of Food Banks to purchase and distribute much-needed and much-needed protein products to Ohio families struggling to meet their basic needs in a time of historic inflation and rising food prices.”

In an email, she said her organization will use the funds to purchase “protein products directly from farmers, livestock producers and cooperatives and processors, as we already do through the Ohio Agriculture Cleanup Program.”

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he added that the purchases will fill a critical need because they are “desperately needed for expensive, in-demand meat and protein products that are not available through donation channels and USDA programs. Food banks and pantries are running out of protein to distribute to hungry Ohioans.”

The news comes after food banks received some good news from the USDA last month. It was announced that Ohio food banks will receive 50 million dollars in the emergency relief that will begin next year as part of a nearly $1 billion nationwide relief package. But it seems unlikely that these measures will meet the needs of food banks – especially if, as some economists predict, we are heading into a recession.

Even without the recession and accompanying unemployment, the latest data from the US Census Bureau Household pulse survey estimated that as of Aug. 8, nearly 762,000—or 6.5%—of Ohioans had sometimes or often been unable to eat during the previous seven days. This is 20% more than in August 2021.

And the strain on food banks comes as the state sat down earlier this year unprecedented fund balances of $7.4 billion and another $1.3 billion in unspent American Savings Act funds. In June, DeWine’s spokesman, Dan Tierney, said that with regard to the bailout funds, the governor “strongly and sensibly prefers that one-time federal funds be used for one-time expenditures, not ongoing expenditures.”

Such ongoing expenses may include supplies for food banks.

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Hamler-Fugitt said in March that food banks are needed over $180 million for materials, equipment and modernization of their infrastructure. But on Monday, she praised DeWine and state lawmakers for the $15 million for the protein.

“We thank Governor DeWine for being with us to hear from Ohio’s food banks about the dire need and why we need bold actions like today’s announcement to make sure hungry Ohioans have healthy, wholesome food. such as Ohio-produced beef, pork, cheese, milk, eggs, chicken, turkey, lamb and more on their plates every day,” she said.

Read more: Ohio Capital Journal

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3News obtained the following statements from local food banks.

Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank:

“We are deeply grateful to Governor DeWine for helping Ohio’s food banks with this funding from the Save America Plan Act,” said Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the Foodbank. “This will help many families. But I want to be clear about the significant food donation crisis Ohio’s food banks are in. This funding, as grateful as we are, will not come close to filling the food donation gap created by the supply chain crisis and 40 years of high inflation. We are preparing to enter the holiday season with the lowest inventory in years. This year we had less food to distribute than last year, and at the same time we have seen a 14% increase in the number of people served by our pantry network. We hope the community will continue to stick with us.”

Along with the other 11 Feeding America food banks across Ohio, we are grateful to Governor DeWine, House and Senate leadership, and the Board of Supervisors for advancing $15 million to ARPA to help us provide protein to families in need from Ohio. With the rising cost of groceries, housing and utilities, many Ohioans have stretched their budgets to the limit. This funding will help low-income families keep protein foods at the center of their plates.

To keep up with the increased demand in our network of emergency feeding partners, we hope that our public and private partners will continue to scale up as they are able. An additional long-standing ARPA request remains with the state to help us build capacity for the future and reduce hunger in our community.