Most of Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s grocery products (more than 46 million pounds each year) are distributed through our network of 550 partner agencies that work directly with clients at the local level. Learn more about this work here. In addition to the day-to-day work of our partners, the Foodbank supports many other programs and initiatives that help us feed hungry families across 20 Ohio counties.
Fresh produce now makes up about one-third of our annual inventory. Produce is one of the best products for the Foodbank to obtain and distribute, not only because it is wholesome and nutritious, but also because it is the most readily available. Research from Feeding America has identified more than six billion domestic pounds of unutilized fresh produce annually. The Foodbank continues to develop strategies to capture significant portions of this valuable surplus. In addition to our regularly scheduled deliveries, a series of specialized produce distribution programs allow the Foodbank to provide more fresh food to low-income clients and improve access to food for under-served populations.
The Foodbank launched Urban Farms of Central Ohio (UFCO), LLC, a venture of the agriculture, government, business and nonprofit communities. UFCO seeks to transform the communities surrounding our farm sites into thriving neighborhoods where residents have improved access to food resources, opportunities for job training, and overall improved engagement with community projects. You can learn more about UFCO and its first location, The Clarfield Farm, here.
Produce Express is a fresh produce delivery program that services our emergency feeding pantries and soup kitchens. The program allows our partner agencies the chance to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to families and individuals in need, on a regular basis, in addition to non-perishable food items.
Produce Markets are free community events sponsored by Mid-Ohio Foodbank and select partnering agencies. At these events a Foodbank truck delivers at least 10,000 pounds of fresh produce and bread and bakery products to a pre-selected community location. The fresh food is then distributed to community members in need. This large community event relies on the hard work of the Foodbank, its partner agencies and many volunteers to serve upwards of 200 families per market.
Mobile Markets deliver fresh produce, dairy and bread and bakery products to low-income senior residences and subsidized daycare centers in Franklin County, as well as low-income community sites in rural counties. The Foodbank has a pair of specially-crafted refrigerated trucks for these distributions.
The Foodbank also operates an on-site Community Garden. The garden offers a learning experience for both community volunteers and families in need. Hands-on opportunities allow people to learn about how to grow food, eat healthier, and manage their food budgets. With around 1,400-square feet of growing space, the garden has contributed over 6,000 pounds of produce for the emergency food system. The garden also features a rain catchment system, greenhouse, and composting barrels. It sits right outside of Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s Kroger Community Pantry.
Other Distribution Programs
Our BackPack program provides a rotating menu of simple to prepare, nutritious foods for children and their families living in low income neighborhoods. The food is delivered in cases from the Foodbank’s warehouse to the school site, where it‘s divided and placed in bags supplied by Mid-Ohio Foodbank. The amount of groceries sent home is based on a family of four – more for larger families when possible. All food provided is shelf-stable, with the addition of bread and fresh produce (e.g., apples, potatoes, etc.), when it is available. Sites are selected on the basis of need, proximity of other resources and site capacity.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a federal program provided through the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CSFP provides a monthly box of nutritious food to low-income seniors.
Second Servings transports ready to eat foods from restaurants and food-service businesses directly to hot-meal feeding sites; such as soup kitchens, emergency shelters, and after-school enrichment programs in Franklin County. The food is intended for immediate consumption.
Kroger Community Pantry
Mid-Ohio Foodbank launched the Kroger Community Pantry in January 2012. The pantry is located at the Foodbank’s 3960 Brookham Drive location in Grove City. This choice-model pantry helps meet the needs of our growing community, and also serves as a learning lab to help Mid-Ohio Foodbank and its partner agencies improve best practices in emergency feeding services. For more information, click here.
Food Stamp/SNAP Outreach
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly the Food Stamp Program, is a government assistance program to help low-income households pay for food. Thousands of low-income families that are eligible to receive SNAP assistance have not signed up to receive any benefits. The Foodbank’s SNAP Outreach team aims to increase the number of eligible residents receiving these benefits.
This outreach team operates at various partner agencies throughout our 20-county service area, conducting community visits to food pantries and other local sites where they screen for eligibility, assist in completing SNAP applications, and provide education and resources about the application process. To contact a member of our SNAP Outreach team, call our Agency & Program Services department at 614.317.9426. To learn more about food assistance or other benefit programs, click on the Benefit Bank icon.
Mid-Ohio Foodbank provides ongoing education and training opportunities for our partner agencies. Educational classes and training workshops cover a variety of topics, including food safety, agency orientation, operational best practices, nutrition, produce market distribution and grant writing. Training opportunities are offered to help support the needs of our over 550 partner agencies.
In addition, the Agency Services and Programs department is dedicated to providing opportunities for our partner agencies to connect, engage, and share information and ideas through our annual All Agency Conference and eight regional meetings. To learn more about our partner agencies, click here.