The Ohio National Guard has completed its humanitarian mission to help food banks across Ohio during the coronavirus pandemic.
After over a year of transporting food across the state and assisting food banks with conversion to “untouchable” food delivery methods, the Guard was honored Friday with a farewell ceremony at the Mid-Ohio Food Collective in Grove City. Mid-Ohio Collective Food Partners with over 650 nonprofit agencies to distribute food to families across Ohio.
“We are losing family as the Guard leaves today,” said Matt Habash, CEO of the Mid-Ohio Food Collective. “Because of them, we were able to put food on the tables for all those who were fighting. It seems that simply saying thank you seems so inappropriate for this humanitarian mission.”
The Mid-Ohio Food Collective said they saw 72,000 households in their food banks for the first time during the pandemic. In 2020, 1 in 8 Ohio and 1 in 6 children in Ohio experienced food insecurity.
The National Guard distributed more than milion 105 million worth of food to the Mid-Ohio Food Collective alone. Several members of the National Guard have been hired as full-time employees at food banks in Ohio.
“I would like you to be at our headquarters when we were asked to do this mission,” said Major General Harris of the National Guard. “We had no idea what the food banks were talking about, but I knew we could do anything, and we proved it.”
At the ceremony, Governor Mike DeWine thanked the National Guard for their service in the midst of the pandemic and noted that their humanitarian work continues, particularly through the state distribution of vaccines.
“What is more important than people being able to feed their children?” Tha DeWine. “Nothing is more important.”
In a statement, the Oceania Association of Food Banks thanked DeWine and other state officials for the $ 24.55 million a year allocated to food banks in the state budget recently passed. They also applauded lawmakers for removing provisions from the budget that would make it more difficult to achieve the benefits of the Supplementary Food Aid Program, sometimes referred to as food stamps.
Grace Deng is a reporter for the U.S. Network BOTO Ohio Today, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Akron Beacon Journal, and 18 other affiliated news organizations throughout Ohio.