The White House Conference on Hunger and Nutrition was Thursday. It brought several anti hunger advocates, farmers, nutritionists, community leaders and policymakers to discuss solutions for hunger and healthy eating in the United States. Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, the executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, was at the conference. She spoke with WYSO’s Alejandro Figueroa about the national plan to end hunger and what it means for Ohioans.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration is using federal stimulus money to grant $15 million worth of Ohio-produced meat, eggs and dairy products to Ohio food banks.
“Food banks have been lightening the bag, lightening the boxes, rationing food," Hamler-Fugitt said. "We're currently providing families, Ohioans, that turn to us with two fewer days of meals because we're trying to stretch what we have on hand. But the situation is very severe.”
With the legislature on a break until after the November election, the food banks turned to Gov. Mike DeWine in June, asking him for $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.
Ohio foodbanks have taken some pretty dramatic steps to deal with the crisis. For example, many are rationing food, typically by cutting a five-to-seven day allotment of food by two days.
Meanwhile, they continue to appeal to Gov. Mike DeWine for $50 million in emergency funding as the state sits on unprecedented balances of $7.4 billion.
As inflation has spiked and remained steadily high, food banks and food pantries nationwide report facing record demands for their services at a time when skyrocketing food costs and supply chain issues have made it difficult to meet those needs. Food assistance programs in Ohio and in Greater Columbus have hardly been immune to such woes.
This Older Americans Month, we urge lawmakers to acknowledge the demographic shifts well underway in states like Ohio and continue to build out sound public policy improvements and investments to support older adults as they strive to age in place with dignity and security.
Every Ohioan deserves to feel well-nourished and to have their basic needs met, from their first year of life to their twilight years.