By Susan Mykrantz
Milk is back on the shelf at Ohio food banks, thanks to an executive order from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, which would provide nearly $5 million in emergency funding, according to a news release from the American Dairy Association-Mideast. The funding came as a result of a combined effort of Ohio Dairy Producers Association and the American Dairy Association Mideast along with support from Dairy Farmers of America-Mideast Area and the National Farmers Organization who submitted a letter to Governor DeWine urging him to approve emergency funding for food banks.
“Milk is one of the most requested items for food banks, and Ohio’s dairy community is grateful that the state is taking the necessary steps to help get nutritious milk and dairy foods to those in need,” said Scott Higgins, CEO for the ODPA and the ADA Mideast. “Ohio’s dairy farmers are proud to produce a product that is essential in nourishing our families and communities. We have a plentiful supply of milk, and all families should have access to dairy foods.”
In a separate release, Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks said the emergency funding came as part of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant.
Higgins and Hamler-Fugitt both expressed their gratitude for the efforts of Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Kimberly Hall, Director of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, and Governor’s Office Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Executive Director Michele Reynolds to provide hunger relief to millions of Ohioans.
Hamler-Fugitt added that Ohio’s foodbanks recognize that just as millions of Ohio households are challenged to afford their basic needs during this crisis, so too is the State of Ohio challenged with an obligation to balance its budget amid revenue shortfalls and record unemployment expenditures.
“We are humbled by and so thankful for this strong display of leadership and commitment to struggling Ohioans” she said.
Higgins said ADA Mideast, a long-standing partner with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and Feeding America, has been facilitating milk donations from dairy companies in Ohio and West Virginia to area food banks and they will continue to work with milk cooperatives and dairy processors to support hunger relief systems in Ohio and West Virginia.
The Covid 19 pandemic has created an excessive demand on Ohio’s Feeding America banks and pantry network of over 3600 local organizations. The emergency funding was requested by the food banks to secure food items, including milk and other dairy products, needed to meet the increased demand for food assistance for families in need.
Hamler-Fugitt said the funds will be put to immediate use to purchase available items such as: canned fruits and vegetables; canned meats; cereals, pastas and rice; boxed dinners; locally grown produce; locally produced milk, butter, cheese and dairy products through partnerships with the Ohio Dairy Producers Association, Dairy Farmers of America – Mideast Area and the National Farmers Organization; fresh meat and eggs; and essential household cleaning and personal hygiene items. More importantly, this funding will keep some very cash-strapped foodbanks from running out of food and supplies as they see close to double and sometimes even close to triple the demand for their help.
Hamler-Fugitt said that Ohioans who are struggling with loss of income should go benefits.ohio.gov or call 1-844-640-6446 to apply for SNAP benefits. More information about how to help or how to get help can be found at http://ohiofoodbanks.org/coronavirus.”