LIMA — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, food banks have worked hard to provide a helping hand to people who need it most. West Ohio Food Bank in Lima has been all too familiar with that situation, seeing their own increase in demand, which has rolled over into 2021.
On Thursday, they were paid a visit from Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, who toured the facility and hosted a roundtable with the staff. The discussion revolved around how the last year has gone, as well as how they can continue to improve their services to better serve the community.
“When I come into the food bank, one of the things I want to do is to learn how is it, what’s their secret sauce,” she said. “I think I’ve discovered that it’s true here what I’ve seen in some other places, the secret sauce would be the people. People from your community who are over here serving people in need, so there’s creativity, there’s innovation. I learn a lot every time I come along.”
West Ohio Food Bank CEO Tommie Harner said that collaborating and meeting with Feeding America will help put more meals on tables across northwest Ohio.
“We want to see how can we work together for the betterment of the individuals that live within our communities, and I think the only way we can do that is that collaboration,” Harner said. “So I think our partnership is going to be stronger. We are a smaller food bank compared to some of the larger ones, so just having that opportunity to share how COVID has impacted us has been wonderful.”
Harner also said that thanks to the help of Feeding America, West Ohio Food Bank has been able to grow its resources to add more food and new equipment, which has helped expand its outreach in the 11 counties that it serves.
For both the food bank and Feeding America, the work doesn’t end when the pandemic is over, and they are looking for continued support to take on the challenges of the rest of 2021 and beyond.
“I hope we’ll get past this pandemic soon, but when it’s gone, there’s still going to be tens of millions of people who need help,” Babineaux-Fontenot said. “You can trust the people working here at this food bank. They are from this community, they’re invested in this community. Keep investing in them, and you’ll keep getting return for your own community back.”
Reach Trevor Hubert at 567-242-0398