‘Our prayers have been answered’: Butler County food pantry gets boost during rising demand

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio Army National Guard packs food boxes at Shared Harvest Food Bank

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

BUTLER COUNTY — A $100,000 grant will help a Butler County food bank weather “a perfect storm.”

The Butler County Commissioners recently approved $100,000 in “CARES” Act Funds to Shared Harvest Foodbank in Fairfield to purchase food that will be distributed to families in need through 30 Butler County food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

These funds come at a time when the foodbank is experiencing increased need for assistance in the community and when two food sources are about to expire, said Terry Perdue, executive director of Shared Harvest.

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He said the agency has received food from farmers who were unable to ship their products to China and through a Farmers to Families program that provides boxes of fresh produce and meat to Butler County families. Both of these programs will end in December, Perdue said.

The loss of this food assistance and the increased need created “a perfect storm,” he said.

“Our prayers have been answered,” Perdue said.

After experiencing a plateau for the past several months with an average of approximately 700 families served per distribution — three times greater than pre-COVID-19 times — Shared Harvest is seeing an increase again nearing 800 families per distribution, Perdue said.

He said this “very timely award” will help fill the gap, enabling the pantry to purchase food in place of other sources that are beginning to dry up because of the demand during the pandemic.

In May, he said, Shared Harvest served 1,500 families per distribution, but after residents returned to work, the need drop. Then the demand for food assistance jumped this month.

The grant was important because it will allow Shared Harvest to “spread the wealth” throughout the community, he said.

Butler County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said allocating the CARES money to local food banks was the “right thing to do” because many entry-level position workers have lost their jobs and they’re the ones struggling the most during COVID-19.

“This was incredibly important,” Carpenter said. “That why I pushed very strongly for this money.”

Shared Harvest supports about 30 food pantries in Hamilton, Middletown, West Chester, Fairfield, Monroe, Trenton, Oxford and New Miami.

Besides Butler, Shared Harvest serves Warren, Preble, Darke and Miami counties.

Shared Harvest will be reimbursed the funds once it supplies paid invoices to Butler County Commissioners before the Dec. 10 deadline.

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