It is estimated that four in 10 people visiting a food bank now need assistance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Food insecurity has always been a major issue, but with the pandemic, it has only worsened. In 2021, 42 million people, including 13 million children, may be at risk of hunger.
September is Hunger Action Month, and there is no better time to bring much-needed attention to food insecurity in Ohio, and beyond.
For many Ohio students, food insecurity is a harsh reality. In the 2019-2020 school year, 40 percent of Ohio students received taxpayer-funded free or reduced-price school lunches. While the school lunch program is a beneficial offering for nine months of the year, the three months students are on summer break often leaves many hungry. 2020 brought additional barriers to getting breakfast and lunch at school. Although the State of Ohio ensured that all students were provided with these free meals, many families were overwhelmed with the other demands of the pandemic such as transportation or quarantine restrictions.
We partner with several Ohio food banks to provide funding that will allow organizations who help combat food insecurity continue, and elevate, their important mission. In 2020, the AEP Ohio Fund of the Columbus Foundation and the AEP Foundation contributed nearly $116,000 to Ohio food pantries across the state.
West Ohio Food Bank
The West Ohio Food Bank serves more than 72,000 people in an 11-county area in northwest Ohio. This organization reported that the pandemic led to increased need — from 2019 to 2020, the food bank saw a more than 69% increase in food distribution.
Knowing the increase in need also means an increase in cost, the AEP Ohio Fund of the Columbus Foundation made two donations to the West Ohio Food Bank, enabling them to provide more than 176,000 meals.
Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank
The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank provides food and other essential items to member hunger-relief programs in eight northeast Ohio counties. These member programs operate 500 food pantries, hot meal sites, shelters and other hunger-relief programs in the neighborhoods and communities where people need food.
Mid-Ohio Food Collective
The Mid-Ohio Food Collective works with grocers, food companies, Ohio farmers, the USDA and community partners to obtain food and distribute it to 650 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school programs and senior housing sites across central and eastern Ohio.
Southeast Ohio Foodbank
In Southeast Ohio, one in six individuals, including one in four children, struggle with hunger. The Southeast Ohio Foodbank provides access to affordable, quality food resources to those seeking to mitigate food insecurity and promote good nutrition in an efficient, eco-friendly and sustainable way.
We believe in supporting the communities where we live and work, and we’re doing that by helping fund and partnering with organizations that combat hunger.
Join us to combat food insecurity
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help fight hunger in your community, visit Feeding America’s website for ways to take action.