LIMA — Since joining the West Ohio Food Bank in March, the National Guard has helped distribute more than four million pounds of food across the food bank’s 11 counties.
Aug. 7 will be the last day for the National Guard members working at the organization, who former CEO Linda Hamilton has continually said have become “like family.”
Twenty members of the guard were deployed originally in mid March, and as many as 44 are working full-time with the food bank currently. They are led by Capt. Erica Anderson, who said this is by far the longest activation in her 10 years with the National Guard — the next longest only being a week.
“Every day we received something from the community, they donated a lot of food and we really appreciated it,” Anderson said. “The National Guard doesn’t really get to see this every day. It’s definitely a treat for all of us. This is what the National Guard is signed up to do, and this makes us proud to work alongside the food bank and alongside our neighbors and friends.”
However, 1st Sgt. Foster Kennedy reminded the community that the departure of the guard members doesn’t mean the work for the food bank stops.
“As our soldiers start to transition off of orders and certain folks go back to their employers, there will be an easing back off and encouraging of (everyone) to get out and take care of the community,” he said. “It’s going to be a big void for Linda and the food bank when we step back — four million pounds is a big gap.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.