Local food banks struggle to meet skyrocketing need

The pandemic has forced some people who usually donate to ask for help.
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 6:07 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The pandemic has hit everyone hard and in different ways. For many, it has even led to food insecurity. Both the SeaGate Food Bank and the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank have seen sizeable surges in the number of people who need help putting food on the table.

“I’ve never seen it so challenging before,” says James Caldwell, who has been the head of the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank for more than 25 years. “Our distribution is up 30-50% over last year during this time frame. Even if you can only donate $1, $5, or $10, it all counts. We can do a lot with a few dollars.”

“We’ve seen a greater amount of people, people we’ve never seen before asking for help,” says Vicente Cantu, a pastor at Hebron Ministries in Defiance, one of the more than 200 NW Ohio agencies helped by the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Foodbank. “Things are hard. What I want people to remember, is that every storm is only for a season. I know it is hard to believe right now, but we will get through this together.”

The head of the SeaGate Food Bank says they have delivered more than 11 million pounds of food since April, a number much higher than usual.

“I think there are a lot of people out there who never would have imagined they’d need the help,” says Rapp. “We have been so lucky to have great support from the community. We had an event last week where we more than doubled the amount of money brought in last year. The thing that has truly amazed me through all this is the continued generosity of this community.”

The National Guard has spent time in recent months helping both foodbanks distribute food, but that help is scheduled to end next month. Leaders at both food banks hope it can be extended.

If you would like to help out this holiday season, there are a lot of ways you can donate to both food banks.

The SeaGate Food Bank website is, and the phone number is (419) 244-6996.

The Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank can be reached by calling (419) 242-5000 or logging on to

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