Food insecurity is prevalent not only throughout the United States, but right here in our community. Far too many people don’t know where their next meal is coming from, nor do they have access to enough nutritious food.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13.5 million United States households were food insecure at some point during 2021, and households with children struggle at an even higher rate. According to Children’s Healthwatch, food insecurity impacts the current and future health and development of children, leading to the weakening of the workforce and increased public costs.
Last year, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and our 1,000+ partners served roughly 350,000 residents across a six-county service area, but 557,900 residents were income eligible for food from the Food Bank, with incomes of 200% of poverty or below. This leaves a gap of roughly 208,000 people who are income-eligible for assistance and not receiving it.
More must be done to change these sobering statistics, which is why the Greater Cleveland Food Bank has been working to expand its capacity, and the capacity of community partners, to address hunger today, tomorrow, and for a lifetime.
For many, food insecurity is temporary, like for Pam, a senior who suffered a stroke and hasn’t been able to work while she recovers. For others, like Brittany, a single mom with health challenges, hard choices are a way of life. Brittany relies on the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s Euclid Pantry or other partners when SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) isn’t enough to cover her family’s needs. A growing number of working parents are simply not making enough to make ends meet, and retirees are finding that their fixed incomes are no longer covering rising expenses.
This persistent, widespread need is a clarion call for practical solutions and policy that make food insecurity a thing of the past. Our goal must be to create food security for tomorrow – providing nutritious food and additional resources that address the root causes of hunger so that the need for food assistance is reduced.
In November 2022, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank opened a new 197,000-square-foot Partner Distribution Hub on Coit Road in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. This new, increased capacity is already working with more than 2.3 million more pounds of food distributed this fiscal year to date (October – June) compared to the same time period last year.
But providing food assistance alone is no longer enough. Today, the Food Bank is in the process of transforming its former site on South Waterloo into a “one-stop-shop" to address the root causes of food insecurity for Northeast Ohioans in need. This Community Resource Center will bring together 15+ social service agencies in one convenient location to better serve our community.
A new Food Bank Choice Food Pantry will offer flexible and extended hours for eligible individuals to select their groceries or receive assistance applying for SNAP and other public benefits. They can talk to service providers, like Towards Employment and College Now, about educational and job training opportunities, CHN–Housing Partners about housing and utility assistance, receive health care services from our partners at MetroHealth, and access other supportive services. Additional confirmed partners working with the Food Bank on this transformational project include Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Diaper Bank of North East Ohio, MAGNET (The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network), Ohio Means Jobs, Family Connections, United Way – 211, Shoes and Clothes for Kids, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, ESOP (Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People), Cuyahoga Community College, and Future Plans. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s Community Resource Center at South Waterloo will open this fall.
Our community and our neighbors need a more comprehensive approach to move toward a more food-secure future. To make this goal a reality, we need the support of the entire community and we need your help. Join us as we work to create food security in Greater Cleveland and donate today at clevelandfoodbank.org.