COVID-19 Updates and Resources

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The health and well-being of our customers, volunteers and staff are top priorities for us here at the Foodbank. To that end and due to the public health threat that faces our community, it is more important now than ever that we educate one another as information comes in. This page will be updated daily with recent news, resources, and procedures as new discoveries and announcements are made about the coronavirus (COVID-19) as they relate to our work here at Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO OUR COVID-19 EMERGENCY FUND.

Health is a top priority

The health of our community, our customers, our staff, and our volunteers is of the utmost importance here at the Foodbank. We are mobilizing new strategies, approaches and options in connecting food to our hungry neighbors during this public health threat, allowing us to step up at a time when the community and those we serve demand it. Out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of taking care of each other, we want to advise you of several steps that we are taking, designed to proactively reduce the risk of contagion across our organization and network. Throughout this page, you will find a menu of different procedure updates and available resources in response to announcements and safety measures put in place to combat this virus in the State of Ohio and nationwide.

About COVID-19: What You Need To Know information sheets:

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

How can I get food?

  • Without judgment, our anchor asset Mid-Ohio Foodbank and its partner agencies across central and eastern Ohio are here to help connect you to the food you need. Visit our Get Food page and select your county to see which of Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s partners are in your area.

 

  • If you are ill, under quarantine, disabled, or otherwise cannot make it to a pantry yourself, all Mid-Ohio Foodbank partner agencies use a proxy process where you can send someone you trust to pick up food for you. You can use a proxy by:
    • OR
      • Submitting a handwritten note stating that you are in need of food assistance including your first and last name, your full home address, and the first and last name of the person you would like to pick up food for you.

    These can be sent electronically and/or shown during registration upon arrival to the pantry or other partner agency. The person picking up the order must have valid photo ID.

 

What is Mid-Ohio Food Collective doing to keep volunteers and customers safe?

  • We are doing everything we can to lessen the risk of transmission. Our facilities team has quickly responded to this unprecedented situation by stepping up efforts to ensure the cleanliness of our building and environs. The team is using bleach, Lysol and peroxide, which officials have identified as a highly-effective disinfectant.  Cleaning efforts are more frequent, especially in high traffic areas throughout the building, such as restrooms, breakrooms, volunteer areas, etc. Additionally, the team is focusing on frequent wipe-downs on door handles, elevator buttons, railings, counter tops, etc. Officials with the CDC continue to emphasize that handwashing is still the most effective means to mitigate community spread. When volunteering, please wash your hands frequently and use the hand sanitizer stations that have been added and located throughout the building. The Foodbank will also have gloves available for volunteers to use, especially when handling food and grocery products.

 

  • We have advised the partner agencies within our network to also take the above steps, and to implement “No Touch Model” food distribution strategies like shifting to pre-packaged boxes of food, hosting “drive-thru” pantries where residents can drive a vehicle through the distribution line, switching to a number system to avoid large numbers of people standing closely in line, and encouraging at-risk customers or anyone feeling ill to send a trusted person to shop on their behalf. Visit the Kroger Community Pantry page to see the new procedure we have implemented for our own on-site pantry, and check out our Alternative Distribution Processes and Guidelines.

How can I help?

  • In the coming weeks, we know that more community support will be needed, especially in two areas:
    1. Volunteer help will be needed in our Kitchen as we prepare more meals for children, especially over the coming weeks when schools are closed. We are also in great need of volunteers to help prepare pre-packaged boxes with dairy, protein, produce, bread and shelf-stable food for distribution to customer vehicles at our on-site Kroger Community Food Pantry.
    2. Additional financial support from the community will be required for the acquisition of more food. We have created a COVID-19 Emergency Fund to acquire and distribute more food and supplies to continue to meet the needs of our current customers, while also addressing the rising need as job opportunities are impacted by this crisis.

 

Summer Feeding Sites Kicking Off for Children

As the school year comes to a close and the summer months begin, it’s important to Mid-Ohio Food Collective and our partners that children in our community have access to nutritious meals all summer long. In partnership with our Mid-Ohio Kitchen, a number of open summer feeding sites hosted by Central Ohio partners are offering take-home meals for all school-aged children:

Serving May 26th – August 7th:

Serving June 1st – August 14th:

  • West Franklin Elementary School3501 Briggs Road, Columbus, OH
    • Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., children or parents may take home 2 days of breakfast and lunch meals
    • Fridays, 11:30 p.m.-1 p.m., children or parents may pick up a breakfast and lunch meal
  • Westland High School146 Galloway Road, Galloway, OH
    • Mondays and Wednesdays, 3-5 p.m., children or parents may take home 2 days of breakfast and lunch meals
    • Fridays, 3-5 p.m., children or parents may pick up a breakfast and lunch meal
  • Licking County Library 102 West Main Street, Newark OH
    • Mondays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., children may take home 5 days of breakfast and lunch meals

Serving June 8th – August 14th:

  • Jerry’s Kids at Scottwood3330 Scottwood Road, Columbus, OH
    • Monday through Friday, 12 p.m.-12:45 p.m., children may pick up a lunch meal

Serving June 15th – August 5th:

  • Milo1012 Cleveland Ave, Columbus, OH
    • Monday through Thursday, 12:30-1 p.m., children or parents may pick up a lunch meal and breakfast for the next day
  • J.Ash85 Clarendon Ave, Columbus, OH
    • Monday through Thursday, 12:30-1 p.m., children or parents may pick up a lunch meal and breakfast for the next day
  • Newark Boys & Girls Club96 Maholm Street, Newark, OH
    • Monday through Thursday, 12:30-1 p.m., children or parents may pick up a lunch meal and breakfast for the next day

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Distributing Care Kits

Aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in central Ohio, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center will hand out thousands of community care kits to vulnerable populations in Franklin County. The kits contain isolation masks, soap, hand sanitizer, dental hygiene supplies, water and educational materials. Starting Monday, May 11, teams will distribute the community care kits to residents in vulnerable communities that have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus.

Read the full story on the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center website, or CLICK HERE to see the Community Care Kit distribution schedule.

Ohio Disaster Household Distribution Program

Mid-Ohio Foodbank, the major asset of the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, is deeply appreciative of the USDA Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) approval for an Ohio Disaster Household Distribution Program. This approval, through April 30, will allow Mid-Ohio Foodbank staff and members of the Ohio National Guard and Ohio Military Reserve serving those newly in need of assistance to do so in a safer manner.

This approval most importantly waives the household verification and income eligibility requirements normally connected to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). It will allow us to serve the large number of first-time customers seeking our help during this public health threat without requiring close person-to-person contact to collect items like name, address, household demographics and income verification.

The declaration also increases to the maximum amount allowable under law monthly allocations for SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) recipients. While it does not increase the food supply, including additional food boxes, flowing to food banks it does provide needed additional support to families who rely on SNAP for enough food to make it through the month.

Read the full statement here.

Smith, Day & Holtmann Families Contribute $175,000 to Mid-Ohio Food Collective

In response to the increasing number of central Ohioans who are facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, three Ohio State athletics families are teaming up to provide much-needed funds to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith and his wife, Sheila, head football coach Ryan Day and his wife, Nina, and head basketball coach Chris Holtmann and his wife, Lori, are joining to donate $35,000 a month between April and August – a total of $175,000 – to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund. The fund will help the food bank acquire and distribute food and supplies to existing families in need while also addressing the increased demand from families recently impacted by the health crisis.

Matt Habash, president and CEO of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, says the donation will go a long way in helping the food bank meet the surging need for assistance.

“We understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and that it will take months for many of our struggling neighbors to recover,” Habash said. “We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of these amazing families to be on this journey with us.”

Read more by visiting ohiostatebuckeyes.com or join the Buckeye Nation in supporting families impacted by COVID-19 by making a donation.

NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS DEPLOYED TO OHIO FOOD BANKS

The Ohio National Guard – 100 strong – arrived on-site today and received a condensed, but robust, onboarding, after which our volunteer team deployed soldiers to help in sorting, loading/packing emergency food boxes, in the pantry and with Mid-Ohio Kitchen. Nearly 400 Ohio National Guard soldiers are being deployed to assist twelve food banks statewide. Ten soldiers accompanied the 1,600 meals prepped/prepared by our Mid-Ohio Kitchen team destined for delivery to the downtown YMCA, serving about 550 resident and emergency homeless men. We are so incredibly grateful to have their assistance during this time, making the continuation of our work possible during this public health crisis.

FRANKLIN COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COVID-19 TEXT ALERTS

Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security in support of Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health launched text message alerts for residents to receive the latest information on the coronavirus in central Ohio. Residents can text “COVID19FC” to 888-777 to receive real-time updates and instructions on the coronavirus on their mobile device.

EMERGENCY CHANGES TO MEDICAID, SNAP, AND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the State of Ohio and Cuyahoga County have issued new guidance surrounding the public benefits many Ohioans rely on, including Supplemental Assistance for needy Families (SNAP), Ohio Works First (OWF) and Medicaid.

Medicaid recipients can now utilize telehealth services even for first-time appointments. Redeterminations are suspended for 180 days, Medicaid benefits will not be lost if the renewal process isn’t able to be completed.

For SNAP and Ohio Works First, redeterminations are suspended for six months, meaning if benefits were supposed to expire in March, they now expire in September, April in October, May in November, and so on.

For unemployment benefits, quarantined workers are eligible for unemployment benefits even if they are not diagnosed with COVID19, work search requirements are waived during the pandemic, the waiting period is waived and partially-unemployed people can receive benefits.

ALL PEOPLE'S FRESH MARKET AND FREE STORE

All People’s Fresh Market, a free community market for those needing food assistance, is remaining open so that families in our community can continue to have access to free fresh fruits and vegetables. The market’s operations have been adapted to maximize safety by switching from in-house shopping to drive-up and walk-up service.

In addition, the United Methodist Free Store staff are distributing hygiene kits to families to ensure that they can stay clean to stay healthy, and the Youth Development team is distributing free, ready-made dinners to school-age children each afternoon. The All People’s Fresh Market resides at 945 Parsons Ave, Columbus, OH 43206. Membership is free and currently based on income eligibility. Simply visit the All People’s Fresh Market during open hours and present your photo ID to register. Visit the All People’s Fresh Market website or Facebook to learn more.

FOOD SERVICE EMPLOYEES IMPACTED BY COVID-19 CLOSURES

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on March 15, 2020, that the Ohio Department of Health had issued a Director’s Order that closed all Ohio bars and restaurant dining rooms. Restaurants with carry-out and delivery options will still be able to operate those services for the time being. To give relief to those who will temporarily be suspended from their jobs in food service, Governor DeWine also issued an executive order granting the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) the authority to accept and grant requests for unemployment compensation immediately. This executive order includes benefits for employees who can’t work because their employer has closed, employees under investigation for the virus, and employees without access to paid sick or vacation time. Those who apply for unemployment under these circumstances will be exempt from the requirement that they be actively seeking work. Visit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services unemployment FAQ page to learn about applying for unemployment during this time.

If you are an individual who is suspended from employment and have no income, you are eligible to receive food from Mid-Ohio Foodbank;  we have resources for you:

  • If you need access to fresh and shelf-stable groceries, visit our Get Food page. Select the resource card for the county in which you live to see which of our agency partners are in your area. You are welcome and eligible to use these resources!
  • In the absence of income, you are eligible to apply for the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. SNAP benefits will ease access to food, groceries, and other necessities. Apply by visiting benefits.ohio.gov or feel free to reach out to our SNAP Outreach Team here at Mid-Ohio Foodbank for more information or for help with applying for benefits.
Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s South Side Roots Cafe Procedure Change After Dining Room Closures

South Side Roots has switched its cafe model to the distribution pre-packaged boxes while this rule is in effect. Pre-packaged, carry-out meals are being distributed near the Reeb Avenue Center’s gymnasium from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Weekly Community Dinner is also being served as grab-and-go on Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. In the interest of keeping human contact to an absolute minimum, what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) calls “social distancing,” we believe that this is the safest course of action to take moving forward, especially during these challenging times.

COTA SUSPENDS ALL BUS FARES

As a result of a resolution passed during emergency action by the COTA Board of Trustees this morning, COTA President/CEO Joanna M. Pinkerton has issued the following changes for all COTA transit services – fixed route, Mainstream and COTA//PLUS on-demand:

  • COTA is not charging fare – all rides are be free – for transit during the COVID-19 Pandemic, although COTA recommends that customers limit non-essential bus travel until further notice.
  • Customers using transit are to board and exit vehicles from the rear of transit vehicles, except ADA/wheelchair service who will continue to use the ramp at the front door
  • Customers are asked to continue practicing social distancing and sit at least one seat apart from other customers

COTA has also provided resources on how to get to your local food pantry and, for students out of school, how to get to your school. For more information on modified routes and steps that COTA is taking to combat the transmission of COVID-19, visit cota.com.

 

CHANGE IN PROCESS AT MID-OHIO FOODBANK’S ON-SITE PANTRY

The health and well-being of our customers, volunteers and staff are top priorities for us here at the Foodbank.  To that end and due to the most recent coronavirus updates, the Kroger Community Food Pantry has moved its shopping model to pre-packaged boxes until further notice.

Upon arrival to the Foodbank’s parking lot, every vehicle will be given a number and asked to park in an orderly fashion.  A volunteer or staff member will conduct registration at the vehicle and a pre-packaged box will be delivered.  There is no need for you to get out of your vehicle as the food box will be brought directly to you.  In the interest of keeping human contact to an absolute minimum, what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) calls “social distancing,” we believe that this is the safest course of action to take moving forward, especially during these challenging times.

THE PANTRY IS OBSERVING THE FOLLOWING HOURS:

  • Monday – CLOSED
  • Tuesday – 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Wednesday – 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. AND 5 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Thursday – 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Friday – 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Saturday – 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Sunday – CLOSED

We so appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we all look out for one another during this public health threat and as this situation continues to unfold.  Thank you.