Packing up commodities

Jade Shepard, Private First Class battalion for the Ohio Army National Guard’s 134th Field Artillery Regiment packs commodity boxes for the elderly at the Southeast Ohio Regional Foodbank on Wednesday.

LOGAN — In an effort to get food to the elderly of Hocking County and surrounding counties quicker, the Ohio Army National Guard and Ohio Military Reserve have been helping out by packing boxes at the Southeast Ohio Foodbank in Logan.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called to duty roughly 400 members from the guard and reserve to help out at several food bank warehouses across the state.

The service members at the food bank in Logan were packing commodity boxes for those who are 60 years and older. They will be delivered to roughly 30 food pantries that distribute the boxes. Each box is supposed to contain five days worth of meals.

These boxes are given through a federal program, which means those who receive them have to be income eligible.

David Keller, development coordinator for the Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, added that the income eligibility does not have to be based on the prior years income and can be based on something as recent as a person’s weekly income.

Andrew Sylvester, 1st Lieutenant for the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion of the 134th Field Artillery Regiment, said their main goal is to assist local communities and food banks who have seen an increase in people looking for meals.

Keller stated that the food bank’s shelves are much more bare than normal.

“What we are seeing now is a lot of people who do not traditionally rely on the emergency network are now not getting a paycheck,” remarked Keller. “Now, they have to navigate this whole new network that they probably don’t know about.”

Before they leave, Sylvester said they would like to pack about 7,000 of these boxes, which would be about a month’s supply of goods. As of Wednesday afternoon, they had packed 1,000 senior commodity boxes. He believed they could reach that number in about two weeks.

“Everything is a little behind right now, so we are trying to catch up for this month and then have next month’s pretty much prepped and ready for them,” Sylvester said.

Jade Shepard, Private First Class for the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion of the 134th Field Artillery Regiment said it is also important to go out and distribute these meals to the community to show that they are only here to help.

Sylvester added that as a military member, serving a community in this way is new to him. Because it is a new task for him and many other members, he sees it as an important mission.

“I am glad to be a part of this and actually be able to contribute and give back to the community,” he concluded.

Those who are looking for days and locations of the different food pantries throughout the area go to hapcap.org/foodpantries or call 740-385-6813. Because of COVID-19 operation times may have changed.

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