First-time visitors to food banks total more than 150,000 – Chaleah W. had no idea that she would one day find herself in a position where she needed assistance from the Mid-Ohio Food Collective (MOFC). She has a degree in elementary education and two young kids worked as a long-term substitute teacher at a primary school until very recently.
According to Chaleah, “I attended this school for two years, during which time I had my own classroom and devised my own timetable and lesson plan.” “I only get paid for the days that I work, but the expenses continue to arrive in the meantime,” she said.
She is not at all on her own. As a result of the rising cost of living, thousands of people in central Ohio are now in need of assistance. As a direct reaction, governmental and private groups are cooperating in order to guarantee the availability of food.
Shock Waves Of Hunger
We are witnessing record levels of demand, far surpassing anything we observed even at the outset of the epidemic, said Matt Habash, president, and CEO of MOFC. Thousands of families are reaching out for the first time, and many of our neighbors are making the painful choice to beg for food.
MOFC has served almost 150,000 new customers in its 20-county service region since the beginning of 2022; that’s enough people to fill Ohio Stadium, Nationwide Arena, and Lower.com Field. On the whole, people are eating more now than they did in 2021, a 25% increase. Serving almost 170,000 meals daily, the food collective delivered approximately 75 million pounds last year. When the current fiscal year ends, Habash believes MOFC will have helped a record number of households.
‘We are grateful for the help we get from our wonderful and caring community,’ Habash added. For example, “Our business partners like Nationwide and the Nationwide Foundation have been instrumental in helping us address the needs of the community.”
Companies in the Nationwide family headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to the private, nonprofit Nationwide Foundation, which supports initiatives related to the safety and well-being of children, as well as social and economic empowerment, crisis stabilization, and food security. Nationwide workers offered over 7,900 hours to hunger relief groups in 2022, including 4,800 hours to organizations in central Ohio. The Nationwide Foundation gave $5 million to MOFC’s capital campaign.
All The Way To The Dinner Table
Nationwide has its origins in agriculture, so we’ve always acknowledged the fundamental need for food security, said Chad Jester, president of the Nationwide Foundation. More than $585 million has been donated to nationwide nonprofits by the Nationwide Foundation since 2000 to help those in need in areas where Nationwide has a large employee population. The Nationwide Foundation partners with Feeding America, an organization that unites more than two hundred food banks around the country to combat hunger. In the year 2021, the group provided more than 6.6 billion meals. Since 2009, when it first started collaborating with Feeding America, the foundation has contributed over $20 million to its nationwide initiatives.
AgTech Innovation Hub
Jester argued that new approaches to acquiring and producing food were necessary since climate change was making it increasingly difficult to cultivate crops, rear animals, and catch fish using old ways. The Nationwide Foundation has been collaborating with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University for a long time now to strengthen food supply chain safety. In September, the foundation and Ohio State University unveiled their newest initiative, the AgTech Innovation Hub. At the time of the announcement, Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson, Ph.D., noted that the AgTech Innovation Hub would be facilitated by both organizations via the CFAES and would serve as a hub for the study of novel agricultural solutions and the reduction of climate risk.
In the fight against global warming, agriculture is at the forefront.
When asked about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, Johnson responded, “Farmers are severely affected by the negative repercussions of greenhouse gas emissions, and they can and must play a crucial part in decreasing them.”
Together, we can ensure the safety of our nation’s food supply and the health of the planet for future generations.
Nationwide has committed up to $2 million to help the AgTech Innovation Hub get started and promised more money and resources. Though the foundation is eager to provide a hand in both regional and national initiatives, Jester emphasized that extra support is always welcome. Volunteering at a food bank or making a monetary donation is both “extremely useful,” as Jester put it.
“Food security is achieved when everyone in a community work together.”
Feature image: Pixabay