"In my role with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, I have had the privilege of overseeing one of Ohio's largest AmeriCorps programs, which has included 1,185 members who have spent 1.4 million hours in service to their communities since 2006. While earning a living stipend of less than $1,000 a month, those members recruited more than 40,000 volunteers and raised nearly $3 million in cash and in-kind donations to support the good work of nonprofit organizations throughout Ohio. They do so much for so little."
The Child Nutrition Act is up for reauthorization this year, which Nora Balduff with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks says can ensure funding and flexibility for critical food programs. "It's intergral to education, to health care, to so many issues that so many people care about," she says. "Hungry kids can't wait while we debate. We need to feed them now."
More foodbanks in Ohio are working with schools to increase access to hungry kids and families, experts say. "This continues to speak to the overwhelming demand that we're seeing from Ohio families with kids - Ohioans at large - unprecedented rates of hunger and food insecurity," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt.
"Older Ohioans who cannot afford to buy food or provide a roof over their heads are no doubt on the fast path to the nursing home. Reducing hunger and increasing access to quality nutrition and healthy food is a sound policy for Ohio's seniors, and is the right medicine for Ohio's future."
Ohio ranks first in the Midwest and 12th nationwide for food insecurity among older adults, according to a new report by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. The report found that more than 16 percent of Ohioans 60 or older, about 385,000 people, were at risk of hunger in 2013. "It's just wrong," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. "This level of increasing hunger among our seniors has very significant implications."
"What we see is a complete pulling apart," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. "The official unemployment rate is no longer an indicator of poverty, hunger or food insecurity. It's no longer an indicator of the health of our community, state or nation."
"Asking for $5 million more a year in a two-year, $72.3 billion state budget is an exceedingly modest request. That comparative pittance would leverage additional help, statewide, for hungry Ohioans who depend on foodbanks. No question, Ohio's House can find the additional money. No question, either, the House should."
"The Ohio Association of Foodbanks has issued a plea to Ohio legislators who are fine-tuning the state's $78 billion budget for 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately, however, the proposed spending plan keeps assistance to the network of foodbanks flat at the 2014-15 level of $14.5 million. The Ohio Association of Foodbanks and other advocates for the poor recommend a $5.5 million annual boost to $20 million per year. That request is reasonable and one that all state lawmakers should embrace."
PantryTrak is a registration and reporting system designed to increase the capacity of Ohio food pantries and feeding sites to respond to client needs in diversified, effective, client-centric and dignified ways. The Ohio Association of Foodbanks and its member foodbanks are working to implement the PantryTrak system statewide. Foodbanks throughout Ohio are now recruiting for passionate individuals to join the movement as national service members through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
As the nation emerges from the recession, people look to several measures to determine just how far we have come back and how far we have to go. Economic recovery can become a matter of perspective. "Poverty is complex," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt. "And a job doesn't mean a living anymore."
Nearly half of Ohio households are getting by paycheck to paycheck. Teetering on the edge of financial disaster, they lack the financial reserves to stay out of poverty for three months should they lose their job or face a medical emergency, or their car breaks down. Nearly 1 in 3 fall into poverty temporarily because of an unanticipated crisis and the lack of financial cushion.
During today's National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, held in Washington, D.C., Ohio Association of Foodbanks executive director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt was named the 2015 Dick Goebel Public Service Award recipient. Recipients of this award exemplify public service to their communities, extensive public policy advocacy and tireless energy and creativity in developing solutions to help reach those struggling with hunger.
WATCH: Food pantries are overwhelmed this time of year when schools close for the cold. As a matter of fact, more than 787,000 children statewide rely on free or reduced meals.
"Our online self-serve tax filing service works just like many of the well-known tax filing software programs on the market, with a couple of important differences," Hamler-Fugitt said. "First, we use the full 1040 to ensure that Ohio tax filers access all of the credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and more. Second, our service includes federal, state and school district tax filing at absolutely no cost, including free and secure IRS e-filing."
"Ohio is among the worst states for hunger, and demand at food banks has increased 40 percent since 2010; 1 in 4 Ohio children lives with food insecurity, and not knowing when or if the next meal is coming."
Ohio's economic recovery is measured in lower unemployment rates and more production, but 3.8 million Ohioans don't feel those effects. All they feel is hungry. "Despite some indications that the economy appears to be improving slightly in some areas, the overall economic recovery is not reaching those at the lower incomes scales," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt. "Unfortunately, in the new economy, the jobs that are available are low-wage, part-time, no-benefits jobs."
The increase in demand locally mirrors what is happening statewide, according to the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. The organization noted that, in a five-year American Community Survey released Thursday, the estimated number of individuals living in households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level has increased in every metropolitan statistical area in the state.
At the launch of the holiday season, members of the faith community joined housing and human services advocates in highlighting the toll the low-wage economy is having on individuals and families across the state. "During the holiday season, the choices [the people we serve] are forced to make, in spite of working hard every day, become even more injust," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. For more, visit www.hardtimesohio.com.
The Ohio Network for Health Coverage and Enrollment, a network of 250 organizations throughout Ohio, working to provide health coverage to the uninsured, launched a new public awareness campaign called are you covered? Go to www.areyoucoveredohio.org to learn more.
"We have seen a 50 percent increase in people but the donations cannot match," said Lanna Samaniego, who operates a food pantry at the North American Indian Cultural Center in Celina. A recent study released by the Ohio Association of Foodbanks found 2 million people receive food assistance from the association's network. Samaniego has also noticed an increase in the number of elderly seeking assistance.
With high levels of food insecurity among Ohio's kids, experts from around the state will brainstorm this week on ways to keep children from going hungry. "Kids need three meals a day, every single day," said Nora Balduff of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. "Child Nutrition Reauthorization is a real opportunity to do something about that."
The Ohio Association of Foodbanks was recently recognized by the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations as a recipient of the 2014 Ohio Nonprofit Excellence Award. The award was given in recognition of the association's federal navigator program.
"The full-time jobs that pay living wages and provide benefits have been replaced with part-time, low-wage jobs that just aren't cutting it for Ohio families. These limited resources lead to tough choices and serious consequences," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt. The study was based on interviews with nearly 7,000 food pantry clients, and advocates hope the findings will prompt state leaders to act.
"We want to bring a voice to the voiceless who stand in our food lines," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. As she and other advocates met yesterday to call on state and national leaders to put more money into meal programs for poor children, the US Department of Agriculture released a report on food insecurity that shows Ohio making scant progress during the past few years.
AARP Ohio is partnering with Walgreens for the "Spread Some Good" drive. Starting today and through Sept. 17, all Walgreens locations are accepting donations of $1 or more. They collect monetary donations instead of jars of peanut butter because the bulk purchasing power of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks will allow pantries to get more for their money.
Some of Ohio's most vulnerable children have not had empty bellies this summer, as a result of some innovative programs. The federally-funded Summer Food Service Program is unable to meet the needs of all children who receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year. So, programs funded through Gov, John Kasich's office are trying to fill the gap this year.
"We would like to work with more farmers if we had the funding," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. "The number of Ohioans we serve keeps growing. We regularly run out of money before we run out of need."
Watch Anne Goodman, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, and Duane Stateler, president of the Ohio Pork Council, celebrate an Easter pork donation! This donation marks 1 million meals donated by Ohio pork farmers since they began to partner with Ohio's foodbanks.
A poverty-fighting organization is looking for some new recruits who can provide a helping hand for Ohioans in need. In exchange for a modest stipend, AmeriCorps members volunteer at schools, shelters, and other community service programs throughout the state.
"AmeriCorps VISTA also partners with the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to provide low-income children with free, healthy meals and snacks. In Ohio, over 800,000 children receive free or reduced lunches during the school year, but in the summer months many of them go hungry. I believe in service because we all have a duty to help improve our communities and uplift our fellow Americans."
This winter has been tough for anyone who's had to make their way through it to go to work or to school. But for low-income Ohioans, it's been especially difficult. Some lost pay and even had to risk their jobs to take time off when school was cancelled, and spikes in gas prices have hurt. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.
Read an article by Claudia Herrold of Philanthropy Ohio that discusses a roundtable held to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty and that convened USDA FNS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon and 20 representatives of the anti-hunger and anti-poverty community in Ohio.
Thousands of families had to find different ways to feed their kids after multiple snow days cut them off from the usual free or reduced-price meals. The USDA has a rule that prohibits USDA funded meals from being delivered off of school grounds. Hunger advocates have said lifting this rule could help get food to these kids during snow days.
Public News Service
Ohio Association of Foodbanks Action Alert
United Way Director: Trials and Triumphs
Spotlight on Poverty
Town Hall Ohio Radio, Episode 320
Westerville News & Public Opinion
The Cincinnati Herald
Dayton Daily News
Akron Beacon Journal
New Philadelphia Times Reporter
The Plain Dealer
National Public Radio
Akron Beacon Journal editorial
Mansfield Journal News
Ohio News Network