The long, hard Ohio winter won't do any favors for residents already struggling to make ends meet, according to those on the front lines of a battle for COVID-19 financial aid. The Ohio Association of Foodbanks, the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the Children's Defense Fund of Ohio are begging Congress to pass a relief package in the next few weeks.
Organizers say food banks are completely overwhelmed, providing food to as many Ohioans as they can. The need is growing, but additional help from the federal government is still in limbo. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates more than 300,000 Ohio households are behind on rent, and nearly 200,000 are concerned they’ll be evicted in the next two months.
Ohio foodbanks have seen unprecedented demand during the coronavirus pandemic — demand they say they couldn’t have met without the help of the Ohio National Guard. Now, as the pandemic enters its most dangerous phase that help is about to dry up and the foodbanks are calling on the Trump administration to do something.
In addition to boosting SNAP benefits to offset record high grocery prices, we need more food purchases by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that we are doing what we can to fight hunger. Congress and the USDA must ensure food banks do not witness a dramatic decline in the food needed to support the millions of people we serve.
Charity and philanthropy will continue to do everything we can during and in the wake of this prolonged crisis because that is our duty and our calling. But Congress is the only body with the ability and legislative power to provide necessary relief to hurting Ohioans and Americans. This crisis cannot wait until the next Congress – it will be too late.
Three leading poverty economists this month published a paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research saying that rates of food insecurity have nearly tripled during the pandemic despite federal relief assistance.