Feeling inflation's pinch, Ohio food banks plea for help
Ohio's food banks are struggling to keep shelves stocked amid rising costs and supply-chain disruptions.
- But those same issues are pushing even more people to turn to them for help.
Why it matters: More than 1.5 million Ohioans — one in eight of our neighbors — go hungry, according to Feeding America.
- The Ohio Association of Foodbanks says that some banks have been forced into rationing.
State of play: The association's leaders are now urging lawmakers to spend federal pandemic relief funds or other cash reserves to address the critical need.
- Ohio has nearly $2 billion in remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds, they note.
- The state's rainy day fund has an unprecedented $7.4 billion, per a Pew States report.
- Food banks are requesting $50 million immediately, plus $133 million in long-term relief to prepare for a recession.
How it works: Food banks distribute food to community pantries that they obtain from manufacturers, retailers and farmers at a lower cost.
- They're especially important when local donations to pantries can't keep up with demand.
Zoom in: The Dublin Food Pantry is serving 2,200 individuals a month, three times their pre-pandemic output, executive director Denise "Dinky" Youngsteadt-Parrish tells Axios.
- The nonprofit has outgrown Dublin Community Church, its home for 46 years, and will soon move to a larger location to meet demand.
What they're saying: Eggs, meat and milk are in short supply.
- "If we don't have any milk today, some volunteers will run out and buy it" Youngsteadt-Parrish says. "They don't want to be the person who says, 'I'm sorry, we don't have this.'"
What's next: The food banks' proposal is "being reviewed," a spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine tells Axios, though state lawmakers are on summer recess until September.
- The spokesperson also noted the rainy day fund is "meant to stabilize the state budget in downturns; therefore, it is not prudent to use that fund for other purposes."
What we're watching: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are currently boosted, but will return to normal once the federal pandemic relief emergency expires, possibly as early as mid-July.
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