Freestore Foodbank Assessing Needs For Rest Of 2020

Apr 22, 2020

The amount of food being distributed by the Freestore Foodbank has quadrupled in recent weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

CEO Kurt Reiber said the demand is increasing and food supplies are being stretched thin. He spoke during a press briefing Wednesday at Cincinnati City Hall.

He said the community is helping the agency "weather the storm."

"But we know that it's not a sprint, it's a marathon," Reiber said. "And we have to make sure we are ever vigilant. We know that we're just starting to see the impact of the business closures, and the furloughs and the layoffs. And we know that's going to continue."

Reiber said he's asked his staff to forecast what it needs for the remaining months of 2020.

"Normally we spend about $100,000 a month on purchased food," Reiber said. "During the past month and a half, we have spent over $3 million in food purchases. Now hopefully we expect that to last us for a period of three months. We will see."

Reiber said the current situation can be discouraging, but he said there's also encouragement from the families who are visiting local food pantries supplied by the Freestore.

"We saw a man yesterday who came through Bond Hill to receive food," Reiber said. "And he was crying because he had been out of work for over a month, his wife was sick, and his daughters were at home away from school. The emergency box of food we were able to provide for them helped bridge that gap for them."

Besides providing food, the Freestore is also assisting with health and hygiene products, as well as cleaning supplies for families.

It also has a call center to assist families with benefit enrollments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid and unemployment.

Members of the Ohio National Guard have been assisting the Freestore Foodbank with distribution efforts since it has temporarily suspended the use of volunteers because of COVID-19.