Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Food Banks organize at the Ohio statehouse

Food Bank advocates are asking for more money from Ohio's state government to keep up with the demand for food.

Food Banks in the state saw a 25 percent increase in people asking for food during the end of 2008, that amounts to 1.8 million people.

The Ohio government has allocated 8.5 million dollars for food banks, but that is the same amount of money as prior years.

From the Columbus Dispatch, reporter Catherine Candisky was at the food bank event.

"The $8.5 million isn't going to do it," said Evelyn Behm, vice president of Mid-Ohio FoodBank, which serves central Ohio. "The demand will continue to grow as the economy continues to dive. We get calls every day asking how to access food pantries from people coming to us for the first time."

Gov. Ted Strickland's budget proposal would provide $8.5 million a year to the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, which distributes food and groceries to pantries across the state. The allocation is the same Second Harvest received from the state this year and last.

The money is used to purchase canned goods and grocery items and to buy surplus produce and meats from Ohio farmers at discounted prices.

Budget hearings set to begin this week in the House were postponed because of uncertainty over the federal stimulus package and lack of a bill detailing the governor's proposal.

"We are hopeful that any federal economic stimulus package will provide opportunities for additional funding for Ohio's emergency food programs," Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Second Harvest's executive director, wrote in a letter delivered to Strickland yesterday.

She said of the 1.8 million Ohioans served between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, one in three households had at least one adult working. Nearly 705,000 of those served were children and more than 232,000 were senior citizens.

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