Hamilton County is partnering with the Freestore Foodbank to encourage donations. The food drive comes as federal employees head back to work, at least temporarily, following the partial government shutdown.
"We've got folks that have missed a couple paychecks at this point and are feeling a lot of rent and food insecurity," says Commission President Denise Driehaus. "We want to make sure that if on Feb. 15 we once again are in a situation where federal employees aren't being paid that we are robust enough at the food pantries to provide food benefits to those individuals so they can feed their families."
Yellow bins are placed in county buildings to accept donations.
Donations are also needed to help food assistance recipients fill the gap. Benefit cards were loaded early and even though the shutdown is over, they won't be reloaded until a person's normal March date.
About 100,000 Hamilton County residents receive food assistance.
Freestore Foodbank CEO Kurt Reiber says donations are typically low this time of year, after the holidays, and the shutdown didn't help.
"We've seen about a 15 percent increase in terms of the amount of food that our pantries are ordering from our online ordering system but also the folks that are coming in here, too," he says.
The silver lining, he says, is the organization has also seen an increase in volunteers, specifically furloughed federal workers who volunteered at various pantries during the shutdown.