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Greater Cincinnati food banks expect trade war boon

Posted: 4:47 PM, Oct 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-05 17:50:20-04

CINCINNATI -- It appears the Freestore Foodbank is going to have a bountiful harvest this year, thanks to changes in U.S. trade policy.

Tariffs imposed on U.S. farm goods are slowing sales overseas, but food banks in Greater Cincinnati and across the country stand to benefit from the trade dispute.

Food banks across the country are getting $1.2 billion worth of food that isn't being sold overseas because of high tariffs. The distribution is being done so farm prices won't be depressed and hurt farm family income. 

"It's a huge deal," said Kurt Reiber, the president and CEO of Freestore Foodbank.

Last year, the food bank distributed 27.3 million meals, and they're projected to distribute 31 million this year, according to Reiber. That will feed 240,000 people from Wilmington, Ohio, to Owenton, Kentucky, and from Aurora, Indiana, to Portsmouth, Ohio.

"We're going to be getting some meat, some produce items. We're going to be getting some dairy products," Reiber said. "So, the families we're seeing are going to be getting some very healthy and nutritious food that will be a lifesaver for them."

The bulk of the food will be received and distributed from December through next March. 

The network to get the food out to people is being refined for the important deliveries, according to Reiber.

"Eight out of 10 kids in the area we serve are eligible for free distribution lunches," he said. "So being able to get this high-protein, high-produce dairy products to these families will be a life-changer."

Shared Harvest in Fairfield is also expecting to see enough food to provide 2 million meals, according to Executive Director Tina Osso.

"Everything from oranges to grapes to pork loin roasts to beef roasts to American cheese: you name it, it's in the mix," Osso said.

The food will go to tens of thousands of people, many of whom are living at or below the poverty level in Ohio.

"We cover five counties in Ohio, but we share our food with for other sister food banks covering 32 counties in Ohio," Osso said.

The first shipments are due to arrive at Freestore Foodbank on Oct. 17 and at Shared Harvest in mid-December.