So, what’s in your fridge? Fresh fruits and vegetables? A loaf of bread? Last night’s leftovers? Unfortunately, for too many Ohioans, this is not the case. Every day, hundreds of thousands of residents wonder where their next meal will come from.
Food insecurity is defined as the lack of access to a sufficient amount of affordable and nutritious food. Individuals who are food insecure are at an increased risk for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. For children, food insecurity is especially detrimental to their health, development and well-being in the short and long term.
According to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s 2018 annual report, 1 in 6 Ohioans are at risk of hunger. Even worse, 1 in 4 Ohio children are also at risk.
According to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s 2018 annual report, 1 in 6 Ohioans are at risk of hunger. Even worse, 1 in 4 Ohio children are also at risk. Many depend on SNAP benefits for access to basic nutrition. But, proposed changes to this program threaten the ability for residents in 38 Ohio counties to continue receiving benefits that increase food security within their families. As a result, we will likely see an increase in the number of individuals who experience hunger within our community.
At HandsOn, we know first-hand how serious this issue is; 2 out of 3 people who call 2-1-1 seek access to emergency food, and 90 percent of them have children in the home. Through our dedicated foodline, we continue to provide this essential service; it’s part of a community-wide effort to strengthen food security by developing a comprehensive food access system. The foodline is an essential strategy in this system, providing access to food pantries, soup kitchens and meal sites to help alleviate hunger.
2 out of 3 people who call 2-1-1 seek access to emergency food, and 90 percent of them have children in the home
To further our efforts to remedy food insecurity in our communities, we are developing new, innovative ways to achieve access. We’ve developed a 21st century approach by implementing our chat and text program. Clients can text “FOOD” to a designated number and chat with a live information specialist to receive food referrals on the go. We are also working to expand our capacity through Interactive Voice Response (IVR). This will allow existing clients to call in and schedule their own pantry appointments, while improving the overall customer experience.
During 2018, our foodline and chat and text program provided 388,000 individuals with 1.3M meals. We’re proud of our ability to help families make ends meet so that we can create a more equitable place to live for everyone.
If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, call us to learn more about the resources and options that are available. You may contact our foodline at 614-341-2282 or text “FOOD” to 614-702-7722 Monday-Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Let us connect you with the resources you need.
And, if you’re among those fortunate enough to have a fridge full of fresh produce and nutritious meals, please consider lending a hand. Whether donating to a food pantry or seeking other volunteer opportunities — this is a great place to start!
Together, we can work to provide more consistent meals to create stronger, healthier families.
Tiffany T. Wright
Interim President & CEO
HandsOn Central Ohio