A partnership between Ohio University Chillicothe and the Ross County Community Action Commission, Inc. has provided food to nearly 1500 families this summer through the USDA Farmers to Families project. The distribution effort is part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and was offered in partnership with Gordon Food Service.
While university events are suspended through the month of July for all campuses, Dywayne Nicely, Ph.D., interim dean for OHIO Chillicothe, said the campus received a special exemption to serve as a distribution site for the program. “The true heroes behind this are the good people from Gordon Food and Ross County Community Action Commission,” he said. “We are happy to be a minor part of such a great program that aids our community during this time of great need.”
Andrea Minton, director of Early Childhood Programs for Ross County Community Action Commission said the agency routinely works with GFS and the food distributor wanted to partner for the Farmers to Families program. Approximately 300 families took part in the program each week. “Our Facebook page has helped with informing the community and registering families for the weekly food distribution,” Minton said.
OHIO Chillicothe alumni and students assisted in the food distribution, as vehicles lined up each Thursday to pick up the boxes which contained produce and various protein items. Emily Haubeil, a former College Credit Plus student at Chillicothe said she learned about the chance to help from her mother. “I’ve been involved with produce drops before,” Haubeil said. “(The program) is an opportunity for me to have, some summer work and give back to my community.”
Jillian Simpson, an OHIO alumna and social worker, was glad to see her alma mater involved in Farmers to Families. “The campus is the best possible location for our weekly food distribution,” Simpson said. Food was also distributed by Community Action to about eight other community partners to distribute at their respective locations.
Ross County Community Action Commission hopes to extend the Farmers to Families initiative. Minton said her agency and GFS are discussing continuing the program into August.