Ohio food banks asking for more money in midst of state budget cuts

The Second Harvest Food Bank said additional funding for the Agricultural Clearance Program would help feed more people

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Ohio Governor John Kasich warned of a tight state budget for the upcoming year, but there’s one state agency that is requesting additional funding.

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks is asking the state for an extra $5 million for its Agricultural Clearance Program. That’s what provides Ohio food banks with fresh fruits and vegetables.

This program already gets about $19.5 million. It has been running for the past 18 years.

When Ohio farmers have a surplus or unmarketable product, the food banks are able to get those items, eliminating food waste. That produce makes its way to 12 food banks in the state and from there, it’s distributed to more than 3,000 food pantries.

The Second Harvest Food Bank in the Mahoning Valley depends on this program to help feed the hungry.

Executive Director Mike Iberis says it’s important to note that the money doesn’t go in their pockets.

“All the money is paid to the farmers in order to take the product out of the field, to pack it and then to ship it to the 12 food banks in Ohio,” he said.

Iberis said if the request for the extra $5 million is denied, or if the current $19 million in funding is cut, they’ll work with what they’re given. But, he said, additional funding would allow them to help more hungry people.

“It would simply mean we could bring in more product, more fruits and vegetables to the hungry people that need it. We have a goal in the Mahoning Valley to make sure no one goes hungry, and we just keep striving daily to make that a reality,” he said.