Our Statewide Request for Hunger Relief Funding in the 2024-25 Biennial Budget
Ohio’s hunger relief network has not only been on the front lines for the past three years – but for the past fifty. We are your neighbors and friends, and we are busy innovating every day to make our communities healthier and more food secure. We are seeking $50 million per year in the 2024-2025 state biennial budget to help us procure additional locally grown produce, protein, and dairy products, shelf-stable foods, and center-of-the-plate items as well as essential non-food personal care and personal hygiene items. Foodbanks are the local and regional infrastructure our communities count on, whether during a public health emergency, a natural disaster, or an everyday crisis, and our communities will be counting on us as they continue to recover from a historic period of inflation, a lingering pandemic, and the end of other pandemic-related benefits.
From July 2022 to September 2022, Ohio's foodbanks and their partner food pantries served 42% more people than during the same quarter in 2021 - providing take-home groceries nearly 3 million times in just 3 months. Without long-term investments, our statewide network of 3,600 local faith-based and community organizations providing food and other resources won't be able to sustain this response as pandemic support ends for Ohio families with low or fixed incomes. Read more about our request. This funding will build on our decades-long public-private partnership with the State of Ohio, Ohio farmers, growers, and producers, and hunger relief providers throughout all of Ohio's 88 counties.
How exactly will this investment be used?
We are respectfully requesting a $50 million per year investment in the 2024-25 state biennial budget. With this funding, we will procure center-of-the-plate and shelf-stable foods and direct surplus and unmarketable agricultural products from nearly 100 Ohio farmers and producers through the state’s network of foodbanks and onto the tables of Ohio families, ensuring a source of nutritious, Ohio-raised food for Ohioans experiencing food hardship. Learn more about the the upcoming end of SNAP Emergency Allotments and the anticipated impact in this Center for Community Solutions brief. Learn more about the multiplier effects that this investment will have on Ohio's agricultural economy from our most recent Independent Economic Impact Analysis of State-Funded Food Programs, as prepared by Dr. Howard Fleeter.
Children that experience food insecurity can't learn on pace with their food secure peers. Free school meals for all Ohio students were available during the pandemic but have since been ended by Congress.
Older adults now make up 1 in 4 of the people we serve. Without adequate, wholesome food, older adults cannot age with dignity and independence in their own homes.
Ohio workers are also parents and caregivers. They are under incredible financial stress. They shouldn't have to choose between affording food, rent, utilities, gas to get to work, or other basic expenses.
Why is this investment needed?
Ohio communities are counting on their foodbanks to be resilient to help them weather whatever current or future crises occur and regain and maintain basic food and economic security - especially as pandemic-era supports end. To fill as many gaps as possible in the short- and long-term, Ohio's foodbanks and hunger relief organizations need additional support from every sector. We are grateful for the emergency one-time funding provided by the State of Ohio for state fiscal year 2023 to buy more emergency food, and we know more action will be needed throughout the upcoming biennium.
Ohio foodbanks and hunger relief providers have responded to sustained or increasing demand for 15 years, doing more and being more for more Ohioans year in and year out. The working families, older adults, people living with disabilities, children, and caregivers we serve continue to count on us more often and in more volume than prior to the pandemic, while at the same time we are facing enormous shortfalls in available food sources.
Ohio foodbanks support Ohio's workforce, Ohio families and older adults, and Ohio's agricultural sector
- Our workforce: providing a safety net for workers; preventing job loss and greater economic hardship by responding to household income shortfalls during personal or community crises, from a car repair bill to a tornado
- Our families and older adults: helping kids learn and grow; supporting parents so they can focus on keeping up with other household expenses from housing to health care; and rethinking how we support older adults as they strive to age in place with dignity and in better health
- Our agriculture and food producers: supporting agricultural and food supply chains; providing a safety net for producers
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants face impending drop in benefits
Throughout the pandemic, the lowest-income Ohioans received SNAP Emergency Allotments, which provided an average of $90 per person, per month in enhanced benefits. Congress prematurely ended these enhanced benefits, which were issued for the final time in February 2023. Workers earning low wages and people living on fixed incomes will be hardest hit, especially older adults and people living with disabilities. Along with a variety of other stakeholders, we are calling for the State of Ohio to appropriate about $42 million over the 2024-25 biennium to bring about 70,000 older Ohioans up to a minimum SNAP benefit of $50 per month: Support an Older Adult Minimum SNAP Benefit. We recently partnered with The Center for Community Solutions and Advocates for Ohio's Future to conduct in-depth interviews with ten older Ohioans (60+) participating in SNAP. Read more about the troubling rise in demand for help from our hunger relief network from older adults and what SNAP participants told us about their experiences with food insecurity and the impact that the loss of SNAP Emergency Allotments will mean to their food security, health, and well-being: Older Adults, Food Insecurity, and SNAP: A special brief on the crisis facing Ohioans 60+
High inflation has wiped out any gains and put Ohioans further in debt
Meat, fish, and egg prices are up 12.5 percent over 2021. The cost of renting a 2-bedroom unit in Ohio is up 12.6 percent over the past year. Ohioans are paying 33.7 percent more to heat their homes. Household credit card debt has skyrocketed as families struggle to keep up with basic needs. Meanwhile, farmers are hard-pressed by rising input costs and frontline providers like foodbanks are struggling to keep up with increased costs for fuel, food, and labor. At a time when more Ohioans are seeking help from foodbanks than at the height of the pandemic, we are counting on the State of Ohio to continue its role as a national leader in the fight against hunger.
Recent news coverage about the crisis we are facing:
- Another hunger tsunami could be coming. Are we ready? Editorial by The Plain Dealer, January 27, 2023
- Over 163,000 Franklin County food stamp recipients will lose $10M in COVID benefits in March, The Columbus Dispatch, January 27, 2023
- Despite some money from the state, the Southeast Ohio Food Bank struggles to meet growing demand, Report for America/WOUB, January 20, 2023
- Foodbanks struggle with fewer donations, ABC News 5 Cleveland, November 3, 2022
- Ohio foodbanks starving for funds to replace rapidly dwindling supplies, WOSU Statehouse News Bureau, August 24, 2022
- 'We're desperately worried about food.' For Ohio foodbanks, a bad situation gets worse, Ohio Capital Journal, August 23, 2022
- Woes continue for Greater Columbus food assistance programs struggling to meet need, The Columbus Dispatch, August 17, 2022
- Editorial: Ohio should use $50 million from rescue fund for hunger, The Columbus Dispatch, July 31, 2022
- Opinion: Food, fuel, housing cost driving hunger to 'unprecedented level,' The Columbus Dispatch, July 29, 2022
- Food banks struggling with donations down, inflation up, The Tribune Chronicle, July 24, 2022
- Akron Canton Foodbank and clients feel inflation pressure, News 5 Cleveland, July 21, 2022
- Long lines, empty shelves: Ohio's hunger response network is hurting, Public News Service, July 21, 2022
- Southeast Ohio Foodbank scales back: supplies diminish while needs grows, The Logan Daily News, July 19, 2022
- Funding losses and high prices force food bank to close down mobile distribution, WOUB, July 9, 2022
- Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank marks one-year anniversary in Canton, The Canton Repository, July 5, 2022
- Food banks face a 'long, hot summer of need', Ohio's Country Journal, July 5, 2022
- Mike DeWine, legislators need to ensure food banks have resources to meet needs of Ohioans: Editorial, The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com, June 22, 2022
- Feeling inflation's pinch, Ohio's foodbanks plead for help, Axios Columbus, June 22, 2022
- Inflation and supply chain issues affecting food banks, WMFJ Youngstown, June 21, 2022
- Ohio food banks need help to weather perfect storm of rising need, Cleveland.com, June 19, 2022
- Going hungry: Pandemic, inflation, supply issues prompt cry for help, Ohio Capital Journal, June 16, 2022
- 'We're all feeling it.' Food pantries, banks continue work, seek support as prices soar, Cincinnati Enquirer, June 15, 2022
- Inflation is sending more Ohioans to food banks. Can pantries keep up? Lima News, June 11, 2022
- Food Banks Report Shortages, The State of Ohio, June 10, 2022
- Inflation is increasing demand at Ohio's food banks, Statehouse News Bureau, June 13, 2022
- Editorial: Second Harvest needs help to assist those in need, The Morning Journal, June 13, 2022
- Editorial: Open aid to food banks, The Toledo Blade, June 12, 2022
- Second Harvest warns food for hungry might soon be rationed as donations plummet, The Morning Journal, June 9, 2022
- Tri-State food pantries go from feast to famine amid inflation, summer break, WCPO Cincinnati, June 7, 2022
- 'It is more difficult and more expensive to obtain food,' The Columbus Dispatch, June 1, 2022
- Letter: Food banks need help now, The Columbus Dispatch, May 28, 2022
- Ohioans go hungry as state sits on huge stack of money, Ohio Capital Journal, May 24, 2022
- Food pantries in Ohio struggle to feed hungry amid surging inflation, The Columbus Dispatch, May 10, 2022
- 'I worry about what happens next year:' Federal waivers that decreased childhood hunger end soon, The Chronicle-Telegram, May 7, 2022
- Ag Report: Inflation, food price increases weigh heavy on Ohio foodbanks, Spectrum News 1, May 6, 2022
- The impact of rising food prices, WOSU's All Sides with Ann Fisher, April 27, 2022
- Food bank supply crisis: CNN visits Ohio, CNN, April 8, 2022
- Pandemic policies took a bite out of hunger, Public News Service, April 6, 2022
- Foodbanks in Crisis: Leading through Uncertainty, Just a Bite podcast episode, April 5, 2022
- Rising prices of food and gas adding pressure to Northeast Ohio food banks, WKYC News Channel 3, March 9, 2022