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Ohio National Guard Ending Pandemic Missions In August

Members of the Ohio National Guard's 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of Columbus package food at the Mid-Ohio Food Collective in March.
Members of the Ohio National Guard's 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of Columbus package food at the Mid-Ohio Food Collective in March.

The Ohio National Guard will soon have to end its pandemic-related missions, including its first assignment in the coronavirus crisis – helping Ohio’s 12 food banks with the huge job of getting food to increasing numbers of people who need it.

Packing, moving and distributing food was the first pandemic deployment for 500 members of the Ohio National Guard in March.  

But Ohio Association of Food Banks executive director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt said she got a letter from Adjutant General Major General John Harris Jr. this week.

“He notified us that the presidential declaration as well as the additional federal funding will be ending and we’ll be losing our Guardsmen and women on August 7.”

Food banks struggled with soaring need and a loss of corporate and senior citizen volunteers. Hamler-Fugitt said some volunteers have returned but food banks will turn to other community groups to keep food distributions going.

And Hamler-Fugitt said other pandemic-related assignments will be affected: "It’s not just the food assistance mission they’ve been on but other missions they’ve been on as well. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with them.”

The Guard’s role in COVID testing at pop-up sites and nursing homes will also end in August unless funding is extended.

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