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'This is a really challenging time.' Dayton Foodbank serving more clients amid high food costs

CareSource volunteers loading boxes of food at the Dixie-Twin Drive-in food distribution.
Alejandro Figueroa
/
WYSO
CareSource volunteers loading boxes of food at the Dixie-Twin Drive-in food distribution.

The Dayton Foodbank held a mass food distribution drive-thru ahead of Thanksgiving on Tuesday. Organizers there say they’re seeing a slight uptick in clients as the cost of living keeps rising.

Volunteers line the Dixie-Twin Drive-in in North Dayton. They’re giving out boxes of mixed vegetables and instead of turkey, they’ve got cornish hens this year. That’s because turkey is about 21% more expensive than last year.

The cost of a Thanksgiving meal for a family of ten is about 20% higher compared to last year, according to the American Farm Bureau.

Lee Lauren Truesdale, the chief development officer at the food bank, said the bank still gets more visits from clients now, compared to pre-pandemic times. She adds, the rising cost of bills and food has been tough for families, especially if they’re on a limited income.

“This is a really challenging time, that [money] doesn't go very far,” Truesdale said. “Maybe in another month that might go a little bit farther. But right now, with the high costs of everything, it's just really challenging.”

But inflation is also taking a toll on food banks. The network of food banks across the state reports it has had several truckloads of food from the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program canceled.

In August, the Ohio Association of Food Banks reported the state had nearly 300 trucks canceled.

Truesdale said wholesale purchases have more than doubled too.

“So you have to provide a quality product that's nutritious and healthy, and also something that people are familiar with consuming, but also making sure you can buy as many as possible.” Truesdale said. “We have enough food. We are okay with that. Do we have the same variety that we had a year ago? Probably not.”

Earlier this fall, Gov. Mike DeWine approved $15 million from the state's American Rescue Plan Act fund for food banks.

Truesdale said that should help keep things going for the winter ahead.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming