Coronavirus: Long lines at Foodbank as National Guard helps distribute food

Food pantries across the state on Monday had help from the Ohio National Guard to pass out food to those in need.

In Dayton, The Foodbank Inc., located at 56 Armor Place, had 25 Army National Guard members from Springfield helping pack and distribute food boxes. More than 150 cars had lined up to get food before the Foodbank opened at 1 p.m.

Last week, in light of the coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine activated about 300 members of the Ohio National Guard to help with food distribution. President Donald Trump also activated guardsmen in California, New York and Washington to help food pantries distribute food in those three states.

In order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the Foodbank changed its operation to a drive through to limit person to person contact.

>> Coronavirus: Complete Coverage

Lee Lauren Truesdale, the chief development officer for the Foodbank, said having the Ohio National Guard helping with various tasks helped keep those who work at the food bank calm.

“It’s only been one day, but it’s been so helpful to have the extra boots on the ground,” Truesdale said. “They’ve been hugely helpful. If they weren’t here to help us pack boxes this morning, we wouldn’t have had anyone to help us.”

The guardsmen helped pack boxes on Monday morning, helped check clients into the drive through directed traffic and also put the food in their trunks.

Inside the drive through, about a dozen Ohio National Guard members in their army fatigues, gloves and masks, quickly took chicken breasts, broccoli and soups food from large piles and put them in clients’ open trunks. Guardsmen also broke down boxes

Members from the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquartered in Columbus will help with food distribution in Montgomery, Clark, Butler, Allen, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Hocking, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning and Summit counties.

Linda Willingham, who owns Linda J’s Salon and Spa at 3561 W Siebenthaler Ave., was in line for the Foodbank’s drive-thru.

Willingham said since the governor ordered all salons closed, she has no money coming in and having something like the Foodbank available is vital.

“For beauticians and barbers it’s going to be really hard. We’re going to be hit hard,” Willingham said. “This is stressful.”

Everett Decembly was also in line for the drive through.

Decembly said he is retired and on a fixed income, so having the food bank will help him make ends meet.

“This will definitely help with the way the economy is,” Decembly said.

The line for the Foodbank’s drive through stretched down Germantown Street all the way to South Williams Street and the ramp to get onto the highway. The line moved steadily, but because of the sheer number of people who needed food, some waited more than an hour.

But, Willingham said, “we are blessed that there are people here to help.”

“We’re all going to be okay. Some of these people out here are worse off than me,” Willingham said. “It’s going to be okay.”

>> Coronavirus: Foodbank opens drive-thru, won’t take food donations

One day last week the Foodbank served 500 people, Truesdale said. Most days, the Foodbank is serving between 350 and 400 people.

The food distribution is open to anyone.

People can come get food from the Foodbank’s drive through once every 30 days, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  Anyone in line by 3 p.m. will be able to get food, Truesdale said.

Truesdale said the Foodbank’s Facebook page is the best place to get more information about the drive-thru food pantry.

Daytonians can also call the Foodbank’s emergency line at (937) 949-4096.

About the Author