The holiday season isn’t necessarily a time when food insecurity is more prevalent than other times of the year, but the disparity is more apparent, said Shared Harvest Food Bank’s executive director of the Shared Harvest Food Bank.
There has been a nearly 30% decrease in the number of households and people served per month compared to 2020, but that’s largely attributed to additional federal supports, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and summer feeding programs, that mitigated the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Terry Perdue, Shared Harvest executive director.
“This illustrates that families only access our network of charitable food providers when they actually need it,” he said.
But still, tens of thousands of people require the need of the foodbank.
In 2020, more than 12,800 households, representing nearly 38,000 people, relied on the foodbank, while year-to-date in 2021, just more than 9,000 households which represent more than 26,100 people relied on the foodbank.
Though the holidays don’t make food disparity more prevalent than other months of the year, Perdue said there is a strain when schools are on breaks over the holiday season.
“We have found that low-income families with children struggle more during holiday breaks because they rely on the federally funded, free and reduced lunch programs through school,” Perdue said.
Subscribers of the Journal-News today will find donation envelopes to give to the Community Food Relief, a program that for more than 40 years has raised money for Shared Harvest Food Bank. Subscribers will receive the third of three donation envelopes on Dec. 19.
Tax-deductible donations can also be made online, and $1 provides eight meals to those in need.
“As grocery costs are rising, it is important that we take care of our neighbors who may not be able to afford food right now,” said Mandy Gambrell, editor of the Journal-News. “None of us knows when we will be the ones in need and will have to seek assistance. Shared Harvest ensures all locals have the opportunity to eat and to take care of their families.”
But Shared Harvest requires more than just money to help provide for those in need, said Perdue.
“We have experienced a significant decrease in volunteer support largely due to corporate partners temporarily suspending their employee volunteer programs that have traditionally supplied us with large groups who help pack and distribute food,” said Perdue. “This has financially impacted us because we are incurring the cost of contract labor to make up for the loss and are purchasing prepacked food bags from vendors rather than utilizing volunteers to help us pack. We need both volunteers and financial support.”
HOW TO HELP
Here are three ways to help support the Shared Harvest Food Bank:
Donate online: Visit the Community Food Relief donation page at tinyurl.com/JNFoodRelief
Donate by mail: Checks can be made payable to Shared Harvest Food Bank, 5901 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, OH 45014. Note this is for the Community Food Relief program
Volunteer: Reach out to the Shared Harvest Food Bank by emailing Victoria Harris at Victoria@SharedHarvest.org or visit www.sharedharvest.org/volunteer for details on individual and group volunteer opportunities.