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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Freestore Foodbank In 'Desperate' Need, Mayor Says

freestore foodbank
Courtesy of the Freestore Foodbank
The Ohio National Guard lent a hand at the Freestore Foodbank in late March

There have been pictures from around the country of people waiting in lines for hours at food banks. The local Freestore Foodbank is also experiencing that same demand.  

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said he spoke with Freestore CEO Kurt Reiber about that last week.

"He informed me that they are on pace to give out what they would normally give out in six months in one month," Cranley said. "He also told me last week that right now at that pace they only have enough food for the next three weeks, which is pretty scary."

And the Freestore is also not getting some of its usual donations.

"They normally get food from restaurants who have excess food, which obviously they are not open," Cranley said. "And they get additional food from Kroger, etc., which because everybody is buying out everything at Kroger, they don't have leftovers like they used to have."

Cranley called it a desperate situation.

On its website, the Freestore Foodbank is asking for financial donations so it can purchase quantities of food that is directly shipped to it.

"At this time we are asking you to not conduct food drives," a statement reads. "Doing so could add to the current challenges at the local grocers and require additional volunteers to sort and pack."

The Freestore Foodbank is not using volunteers right now to minimize risk and exposure to COVID-19.

Cranley also called on federal lawmakers to increase funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, so people would have assistance to purchase food for themselves and their families.