In March 2020, Shared Harvest Foodbank more than doubled the amount of food it distributed compared to 2019. That’s double the number of volunteers needed to pack boxes. Double the size of trucks necessary to carry supplies to food pantries. And double the strain on their infrastructure.
Shared Harvest supplies food to more than ninety agencies across Ohio, serving Butler, Warren, Preble, Darke, and Miami counties. Annually they provide services to more than 300,000 people living in poverty.
Shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, the foodbank launched its mobile food distribution service, allowing people to pick up emergency food boxes without having to get out of their vehicles. In some cases, the food supply was gone in several hours.
During the first two weeks of Governor Mike DeWine’s “stay at home” order, Shared Harvest distributed more than 4,500 boxes of food, providing approximately 165,330 meals to residents in need. This amount is above and beyond their normal distribution this time of year.
“Overall, we’re seeing a tremendous increase in the need for food, shelf-stable items, baby care, and paper products,” says Terry Perdue, executive director of Shared Harvest Foodbank.
In addition to the increased demand, the team at Shared Harvest was forced to quickly adjust their existing system from a “choice pantry” model, where families get to choose what they prefer, to prepacked boxes, which made the process safer for families, staff and volunteers.
“The support of the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund allowed us to quickly shift our operations and still provide our service to the community, and to meet people in different ways,” Perdue explains.
The $60,000 donation enabled them to purchase boxes, infant formula, lease trucks for food delivery, and support additional operating expenses that were incurred because of the crisis.
Shared Harvest is currently accepting calls to apply for help and has partnered with Butler County Regional Transit Authority and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office to make home deliveries for people that are still at risk.
The COVID-19 Regional Response Fund has distributed more than $7 million into the community to support residents who are most disproportionately affected by — and most vulnerable to — the health, economic, education, housing, and social impacts of the crisis.