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Government & Politics

New Report Shows Food Insecurity Is Holding Steady in Ohio, But the State Budget Could Change That

photo of Dan Flowers

A new report shows that the number of people considered food-insecure in Ohio is holding steady. But the head of the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank says ta change in the sate budget could alter that.

The report shows that the highest food insecurity rate is in Ohio’s 11th congressional district – represented by Marcia Fudge -- which includes much of eastern Cuyahoga County as well as parts of western Summit County. That’s an area partially covered by the Akron-Canton food bank. CEO Dan Flowers says unlike medical diseases, there is a cure for hunger, so he’s hopeful the Statehouse reverses a $1 million decrease in funding to food banks. Flowers says that money usually goes to buy surplus produce from Ohio farmers.

“The money that the Ohio Food Bank Association gets through the General Assembly is primarily utilized to purchase surplus, Ohio-grown produce. They’re slightly off-spec things -- farmers can’t take these things to regular market themselves -- but they’re just great produce.

“The food that we get is primarily dependent upon the surplus grocery industry. So if we get cookies and crackers and less nutritional items – we’re happy to get them – but produce doesn’t get donated that much.”

Flowers adds that the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank is in the midst of its annual Harvest for Hunger campaign, which has a goal of raising $1.25 million.

The report from the non-profit Feeding America – a national coalition of foodbanks -- shows that in Northeast Ohio, only Geauga County has less than 10 percent of its population listed as food-insecure.