An abundance of food coming to the local food bank has it looking for more distribution outlets.

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, like those across the country, is benefiting from the Trump administration's trade war with China.

The organization, which provides food to needy people through food pantries, hot-meal sites and other programs, is asking organizations without pantries to consider starting one.

"We're looking for churches and other nonprofit groups to join our hunger relief network," said Jill Oldham of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.

Food bank officials also are suggesting that existing pantries expand their hours and lift limits on how much food is provided to families.

"It's going to be a lot more [food] product than we are typically receiving" from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), said Oldham, the food bank's director of network partners and programs.

To provide relief to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs, President Donald Trump's administration has launched a program that has the government buying additional food from farmers.

The food — including potatoes, cheese, a variety of pork chops, rice and beans — is expected to begin arriving at the food bank this month.

In all, the food bank will receive 3 percent more food from the agriculture department than it normally does in a year.

While that may not seem like much of an increase, it's about 1.3 million more pounds than the usual amount.

Other additional USDA food on the way includes pears, oranges, grapefruit and grapes, which the food bank does not typically get in the winter, Oldham said.

The USDA food is among the most nutritious that arrives at the food bank, she said.

Gary Wyatt, who oversees a food pantry in Akron's North Hill neighborhood, was happy to hear about the extra food.

"You can never give away enough food," Wyatt said.

While the economy has improved overall, many people are struggling to get by, he said.

"Some of the people that come to the pantry used to volunteer for us, and now they need food," he said at the food bank, where he loaded up food for the pantry.

The food pantry at the North Hill Community House on Howard Street provides food for about 130 to 150 families at its distribution on the third Thursday of each month.

Wyatt said he would consider expanding the pantry's hours or adding another day. He's director of North Hill Community House and a maintenance manager for the U.S. Postal Service.

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank works with a network of about 500 food pantries and other hunger-relief programs in Summit, Stark, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Holmes, Wayne, Portage and Medina counties.

In addition to the USDA food, the food bank gets products from the Ohio Agriculture Clearance Program, which directs items from more than 100 Ohio farmers, growers and producers to Ohio's 12 food banks that are part of the Feeding America network. Other food comes from food manufacturers, individuals and organizations, as well as retailers who contribute food that is past its sell-by date and is still usable. Retailers also donate produce that they do not want to sell. The food bank also uses money donations to purchase food.

Space is an issue. There's only so much room in the big cooler and freezer at the food bank's warehouse at 350 Opportunity Parkway near downtown Akron.

"More [distribution] partners help us move the food faster," Oldham said. "It also gives more people more places to access the food."

The additional fresh food will require money for handling and warehousing. That makes the organization's annual holiday campaign even more critical, officials said.

Donations of cash and food are down slightly from this time last year.

 

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or Facebook.