National Guard lends a hand at Dover-New Kitchener food pantry – News – Times Reporter
DOVER members of the Ohio Army National Guard helped out Thursday when the Greater Dover-New Kitchener food pantry distributed food to more than 1,000 families in the area.
The three members of the 1st Battalion of the 145th Panzer Regiment from Stow spent about eight hours on site directing traffic and loading boxes of groceries into the patrons’ vehicles.
Currently, approximately 500 members of the Ohio National Guard and Ohio Military Reserve support 12 food bank warehouses across the state.
Dan Flowers, president and CEO of Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, which supplies the Dover pantry with groceries, said he had never worked with the National Guard before.
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“I didn’t know what it was going to be like, but they were a strong workforce,” said Flowers. “You were a lifesaver. Without you we couldn’t do it. It was a godsend.”
The 30 guardsmen stood up for volunteers who had to stop their work in the food bank and pantry in the region due to coronavirus fears.
At the same time, the food bank has seen increased demand as large numbers of people have been banned from work due to the nationwide shutdown to stop the virus from spreading.
In March, 109% more first-time visitors were served than in March 2019. In addition, Akron-Canton Foodbank distributed 30% more food in March than in March last year.
“It was an incredible burden as our staff were exhausted, but the National Guard is pushing really hard,” said Flowers. “We feel very committed and will continue to put pressure on us, but I think it is really beginning to establish itself in our employees that we will be there for a long time.”
The food bank’s food inventory is starting to run out.
“Right now we have solid inventory, but it’s about 30 percent lower than it used to be,” said Flowers. “We’re good for the next few weeks, but I’m worried about the long term.”
Flowers and Katie Carver Reed, director of networking partners and programs for the food bank, came to Dover Thursday to watch the local pantry in action.
“We’re just still grateful to them,” said Reed. “You are our largest hunger relief partner in our eight county service area. You distributed over 3 million pounds of food last year. We are fortunate to have a location like this to continue serving people and doing great work . ” You have found a way to make changes very quickly, which can be difficult, and find a way to serve people safely. “
Adedeji Tiamiyu, who has been a member of the National Guard for two and a half years, was directing traffic when vehicles entered the pantry parking lot.
He is a student at Akron University studying software engineering.
“It’s fun, I can do that,” he said of his duties, but added that he and other members of the National Guard understand the importance of what they do to help the community.
Flowers praised the Greater Dover-New Kitchener Pantry.
“They are one of the best-run, best-organized pantries in the state,” he said. “You have an exemplary crew. Tuscarawas County is fortunate to have a well-run pantry.”