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Freestore Foodbank to get $2 million from Hamilton County

freestore foodbank
Bill Rinehart

Two million dollars is headed to the Freestore Foodbank from Hamilton County's federal stimulus funds. Commissioners approved the money Thursday in response to the federal government ending a program that gave extra money to SNAP recipients during the pandemic.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus says Freestore will use its network of food pantries to distribute the assistance.

"The people that will be impacted by the lack of the SNAP-increased benefits that are running out are from all over Hamilton County," she says. "And so I wanted to make sure that everyone was being served by the money that we are allocating, and I'm convinced that the Freestore Foodbank is the right agency to do this."

Freestore is the region's largest emergency and food service provider and distributor, says County Administrator Jeff Aluotto. "[It] does over $37 million dollars in meals annually. They also work with a lot of the local regional food banks and pantries."

The extra SNAP payments will end in March. About 52,000 households in the county rely on the benefit to pay for food.

Commission President Alicia Reece says this is one way county government can respond to the federal decisions.

"We just had this meeting on Tuesday, and we're back on Thursday, with $2 million," she said. "That's nothing to sneeze at."

In addition to the money, the county will also host an event at Corinthian Baptist Church on Thursday, Jan. 26, featuring Job & Family Services and the county's 513 Relief Bus, where information on how to access local food services will be provided.

The money was previously allocated to a future project expanding broadband internet throughout the county. That project still has $8 million set aside, and Aluotto says there will likely be a surplus in other spending categories that could make up the difference in the future.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.