DAYTON, Ohio — Food insecurity continues to be an issue in Dayton as many are struggling to find a way to pay for groceries during the pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • Food 4 The People donated nearly 10,000 meals to people in Dayton

  • The efforts are organized by Shoes 4 the Shoeless

  • The group of around 1,500 volunteers deliver non-perishable food boxes to those in need every 3 weeks

The Foodbank in Dayton and many other local pantries have been overrun with people who need assistance during the pandemic. 

So, Kris Horlacher, executive director for Shoes 4 the Shoeless, mobilized a volunteer relief effort called "Food 4 The People."

She said she saw a red flag at the start of the pandemic. 

“I knew if our schools closed, I knew that children would starve, be extremely hungry,” Horlacher said. “Because that’s what happens every weekends, that’s what happens over summers, that’s what happens over breaks.”

So she starting planning and reaching out to the poorest school districts in the Miami Valley, preparing to feed 50 families for 3 weeks — what she estimated would be the time of the shutdown.

“We came up with partners, a plan and food, and within four days we were sending food out,” she said. “We called it food boxes.” 

She said each box was filled with a three-week supply of non-perishable, nutritional and easy-to-make items for children and people who struggle to cook. But before they even sent out their first round of meals, “What we realized was within 24 hours, food supply lines broke for the most vulnerable,” she said. “That left stranded more people than I ever imagined.” 

Shut-in senior citizens who live in poverty were added to her list of people in great need for food-assistance, as well as those battling life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. So, Horlacher and her team of 1,500 or so volunteers got to work. 

“Every three weeks we send out 1,700 boxes of food,” Horlacher said. “We’re feeding around 3,000 people. Three thousand of the most vulnerable people. The sickest, the oldest, the poorest.”

And over the last 10 weeks or so, their newly-found mission to help feed others grew from 50 people to 3,000.

She said she’s so proud of the efforts of everyone involved. 

“That is the true American spirit,” she said. “I’ve seen that over and over and over again. Every disaster that I’ve ever worked in, just in my day-to-day job I’ve seen it over and over and over. The true American spirit is we’re not afraid, we will help you, we’ll work — we’ll work very hard. And we do not leave our sick, our old, our vulnerable behind — we don’t.” 

Horlacher said they will continue to provide meals for as long as it’s needed.