September brought warm temperatures and a flurry of activity for Hunger Action Month. October brings many things to look forward to…. the air grows cooler, leaves turn orange, red and gold, and fields of wheat, corn and soybeans are ready for harvest. We are in preparation to receive a large influx of food from farmers and producers through USDA and for the coming holiday season.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the purchase of significant quantities of commodities to address the impact of trade tariffs on growers and producers. The tariff relief program for farmers, growers and producers presents both a significant opportunity and challenges. Our network has a great chance to connect those we serve with additional nutritious food—namely frozen and refrigerated—but we are looking at a small window of distribution and large quantities. Second Harvest will receive bonus commodities for distribution in October and continue through March.
The advantage of receiving these commodities for distribution is clearly to benefit of those who struggle with hunger in our region, especially children who make up 38% of our distribution. The challenge for us is that this protein-laden food, estimated at just shy of a million pounds, will need to be distributed strategically, quickly and continuously over this period of time throughout our region. The food product is a donation to us but create additional costs and logistics to our operations in freight costs, staff time, supplies, equipment and transportation.
With our increased capacity and diligent attention paid to our operational and transportation needs we have been able to bring more, healthy, nutritious food to those families struggling with hunger in our area. The numbers are improving across the region, which is all the more reason to continue these efforts. There are still too many families who struggle with hunger and we know we can make a difference, particularly now with the opportunity to distribute more protein through USDA food programs. We look forward to the challenge of making this happen and hope we can continue to count on your support.
Be believe together, anything is possible. All of us can make a difference in the fight against food insecurity. The bounty of the season reminds us there is enough food for all but, the key is in bringing it to the tables of the families we serve.
Julie Chase-Morefield is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio.