Members of the Ohio Army National Guard arrived at the Southeast Ohio Foodbank on Monday, March 23, to begin helping feed seniors, families, and displaced workers across the Foodbank’s 10-county service area, according to a news release issued last week.
One local example: Ohio National Guard troops appeared at Southeast Ohio Foodbank’s Perry County food distribution event on Tuesday at the Perry County Fairgrounds to help pass out boxes of food to residents of that county.
On Wednesday last week, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Adjutant General MG John C. Harris Jr., announced the deployment of Ohio National Guard members. This action comes at the request of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and in collaboration with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks and its 12-member Feeding America foodbanks, the release said.
Citizens may see military personnel and military vehicles in the 10 counties served by the Southeast Ohio Foodbank: Hocking, Athens, Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton and Washington. The Southeast Ohio Foodbank is a program of Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP).
“We welcome these National Guard members as part of our foodbank family and thank them for their dedication and diligence in the weeks ahead,” Andrew Mayle, HAPCAP’s food and nutrition director, said in the release. “We encourage our clients and community members to join us in welcoming them with gratitude and friendship as they assist us in our important work.”
Fifteen members of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment and the Ohio Military Reserve have been deployed to the Southeast Ohio Foodbank.
Statewide, about 400 Ohio National Guard and Ohio Military Reserve personnel are assisting 12 foodbank warehouses across the state, which provide food to Ohioans in all 88 counties.
The National Guard members will assist Ohio’s foodbanks in procuring, sorting and packing food into bags and boxes; distributing that food through “no-touch” food distributions and deliveries; and supporting other logistical needs to protect public health and safety while maintaining foodbank operations.
“We have a responsibility to respond when our governor and fellow Ohioans need our assistance,” Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general, said in the release. “We have a long history of supporting the state and nation during times of emergency. Our Guard members are coming from counties across the state to serve their own communities, ensuring their neighbors continue to receive food and pantry items.”
The Southeast Ohio Foodbank has implemented several key changes to respond to need while protecting staff, volunteers and clients by minimizing person-to-person contact, according to the release. Staff members and network pantries are making a concentrated effort to transition to “no-touch” food distribution using drive-through and delivery models, as well as transitioning to pre-packaged bags and boxes of food.
Foodbank staff has also advised member pantries of the state waiver on signatures. Clients hold up a photo ID and give verbal permission for the volunteer to sign required forms on their behalf. The volunteer signs with their own signature or initials noting, “COVID-19 2020.”
With the evolving updates and changes, the release said, Foodbank staff is committed to working with state resources to continue to feed at-risk residents in southeast Ohio.
“As social distancing and quarantine measures continue to be ordered and implemented, Southeast Ohio Foodbank clients may not always have access to the local food pantry or soup kitchen where they would usually turn to for help,” Mayle said in the release. “We remain committed to being here to help and serve as long as we are legally permitted to do so.”
The Foodbank is still receiving donations to serve children and senior citizens. Those wishing to contribute can visit hapcap.org/donate. Those with questions or needing additional resources may contact 740-385-6813 or email@example.com.