December 2020

Mid-Ohio Food Collective to receive $500,000 to make up for community demand

Courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch
December 1, 2020
By Earl Hopkins

The Mid-Ohio Food Collective will receive $500,000 in federal CARES Act funding to make up for revenue losses and increased demand for food assistance during the holiday season.

The nonprofit is receiving these funds as part of $1.2 million in grants approved by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. The other recipients include the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Ohio, Southside Early Learning Center (SSEL), Columbus Federation of Settlement Houses and the Columbus Urban League.

While the other organizations are receiving funds to provide rent and mortgage assistance and cover unexpected financial losses, Mid-Ohio spokesman Malik Persons said the food bank will increase the purchase and delivery of food and pay added operational costs caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The¬†funding will¬†modify the nonprofit’s current contract with the commissioners, bringing the total funding to¬†$2 million.¬†And while it’s common to see increases in distribution during the holidays, Perkins said there’s been a significant¬†increase in community demand¬†in recent months.

“These funds are crucial in enabling us to continue to connect nutritious food to so many people in need ‚Äď displaced workers, children who do not have access to a school meal, isolated seniors,” Perkins wrote in an email. “We are working hard to provide meals and groceries to help stabilize families as they work through this pandemic.”

According to the organization’s latest report, 28% of Mid-Ohio¬†customers are coming to the food bank¬†for the first time since the onset of the outbreak¬†in March. Total food distribution has increased by nearly 30%, and the number of service visits across the food bank’s¬†20-county footprint is more than¬†806,000.

In Franklin County alone, the Mid-Ohio has counted nearly 30,000 new customers who are coming to the organization for the first time. At the on-site pantry, located at 3960 Brookham Dr. in Grove City, Perkins said its members have seen the demand jump from 250 families a day to, most recently, over 1,000 families per day.

To expedite the contract approval process and the disbursement of CARES Act funding, the Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to allow County Administrator Kenneth Wilson to enter into contracts with the groups for the remainder of the year.

Given these difficult times, Commissioners John O’Grady and Kevin Boyce said there’s no bigger priority in the county than to provide¬†funding to help aid local residents and families in need.

“This increased need is a weight that we all have to share the burden of,” Boyce said.¬†“So, this investment allows that the¬†food collective to have increased resources as the hub of distribution to the pantries that disburse food throughout this community.”

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