Sen. Sherrod Brown and Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank President and CEO James. M. Caldwell

TOLEDO, OH – In advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank today. With nearly one in seven Ohio families lacking reliable access to food, Brown joined Jim Caldwell, president and CEO of the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, and community volunteers to call for increased federal funding and urge northwest Ohioans to donate to local foodbanks this holiday season.

“No Ohio family should be forced to go hungry—during the holidays, or throughout the year,” Brown said. “As we approach Thanksgiving, we must remember that for too many Ohio families, this means another day when they will struggle to feed their children. And that’s when Ohio’s food banks step in to fill the void.

“But with increased demand and shrinking budgets, Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank – and the dozens of similar organizations across our state – need our help,” Brown continued. “That’s why I’m working to ensure increased federal funding to help pantries in Ohio and across the country. I’m also urging Ohioans who are fortunate enough to look forward to a hearty holiday meal to help their friends and neighbors do the same by supporting food pantries in their hometowns.”

Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank is in the middle of its “Feed a Family” fundraising drive to pay for Thanksgiving meals for area families. Over the past 30 years, the food bank has distributed more than 96,000,000 pounds of food and grocery products to assist those in need and serves a network of more than 300 member agencies in Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams and Wood Counties.

“Ohio has the dubious honor of being the 3rd worst state in the nation for food insecurity,” said James. M. Caldwell, president and CEO of the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank. “The Toledo NW Ohio Food Bank is continuously working to alleviate hunger.  Over 600,000 people in Northwest Ohio continue to struggle with food insecurity.  There is so much more work to be done in the fight against hunger.”

Brown has worked to increase federal funds for Ohio food banks. After his call for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase its contributions to ensure food pantries can continue to serve their communities, USDA increased the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) by $50 million. TEFAP is used to supply low-income senior citizens and families with nutritious commodity foods, including canned fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, beans, pasta, peanut butter, rice, and soups. In Aug. 2015, Brown and 22 of his Senate colleagues urged USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to distribute existing funding through TEFAP to purchase additional foods for distribution to food banks in Ohio and across America. Full text of the letter is here.

Brown continues to work to ensure that Ohio families and children don’t go hungry. Last week, Brown announced his cosponsorship of the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act, bipartisan legislation that would increase access to summer federal child nutrition programs.