Local food bank leaders concerned about increased need for help as food supplies decrease

SeaGate expects to see an increased need for help because of the end of emergency SNAP allotments.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:47 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A local food bank is struggling to keep the shelves fully stocked as the need for help is expected to increase in the coming weeks.

A temporary boost to SNAP benefits, or food stamps, ended last month. Because of that, places like the SeaGate Food Bank are bracing for more requests for help feeding people. Rooms and coolers that are usually full of food stacked from floor to ceiling are now a lot emptier.

SeaGate distributes tens of millions of pounds of food every year, but that will likely be harder to do this year.

“I’m very concerned. I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said Executive Director Mindy Rapp.

Rapp says hunger is in every part of our region.

“Everyone thinks hunger is only in a certain area of town. It’s not. It is all over, especially with inflation,” said Rapp. “One in four kids here goes to bed hungry. That does not mean no food. It means they don’t have enough food for the day. There are a lot of people who have a home and a car, who do not have enough food in the cupboards.”

The food bank has been working to change statistics like that for decades.

“We have about 300 partner agencies, and through those agencies, we help about 130,000 individuals a month,” said Rapp. “That adds up to a lot of people over the year.”

It also adds up to a lot of food given away annually.

“We distribute between 25-28 million tons of food every year,” said Rapp. “We do that in eight NW Ohio counties, all at no cost.”

Rapp says the food bank is bracing for a big increase in the need for help. She says that’s due in large part to the end of the temporary emergency boost to SNAP benefits that were put in place during the pandemic.

“I know our pantries are going to get hit hard, and we don’t have extra food to give them now,” said Rapp. “Even if we had more money, if we purchased food, we couldn’t get it in large quantities right away. It would take three to six months to get. That is just the ways things are right now.”

Rapp says the impact of the end of those emergency allotments will be clearer at the end of this month. She believes the hardest hit groups will be senior citizens and single parent families.

Conversations are well under way with local, state and federal leaders about the expected increase in the need for help.

Rapp says her biggest fear in the coming weeks is “that we are going to have a lot of people coming to our door and we have nothing to give them, that’s a huge fear.”

One of the best ways you can help right now is by donating food or running a food drive. The biggest need is for non-perishable items like canned tuna or meats as well as things like peanut butter. You can also make a cash donation.

On a side note, there are special supplemental food boxes available every month to seniors over the age of 60. Rapp says they include things like vegetables, protein and milk.

To learn more about SeaGate Food Bank, click here.

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