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Ohio National Guard Completes Humanitarian Mission At Second Harvest Food Bank

Gov. DeWine and his wife Fran talking with guard members at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Springfield.
Alejandro Figueroa
Gov. DeWine and his wife Fran talking with guard members at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Springfield.

This past Friday was the final day of the Ohio National Guard’s mission assisting food banks across the state. The humanitarian mission was part of an order issued by Gov. Dewine in March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order activated approximately 300 guard members to help assist in duties such as transporting, packaging, and distributing meals in partnership with food banks across the state, according to a press release from 2020.

About two dozen guard members volunteered as part of that mission at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Springfield.

Tyra Jackson, the Executive Director at the food bank, said the National Guard has been essential to delivering meals and serving the community during the pandemic.

“They basically became a part of the Second Harvest Food Bank family,” Jackson said.“We know them, the people who come to get food know them and they literally have become a part of our community.”

Capt. Theodore Brown, the officer in charge, said the guard helped deliver far more meals this past pandemic year than the pantry would have during a normal year.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Brown said. “We’ve been able to help out of this location in Springfield over 40,000 families and distribute over 11 million pounds of food to the community."

After the guard handed out the last few meals of the week’s food distribution event, Gov. DeWine briefly stopped by to thank them for their service.

“The fact that the guard is leaving is a sign that we’re getting back to normal, we should look at this as a victory.” DeWine said.

In a press release, the Ohio Adjutant General’s Department announced it will work with food banks across the state to train new and returning volunteers to continue food service operations.

Jackson said the food bank had been preparing for the last few months to transition its services without the aid of the guard. She said the programs and services will continue with the help of volunteers.