Community Resource Spotlight

Success Story – Addressing Food Insecurity: 2 Resources – The Foodbank, Inc. & Gem City Market

What is food insecurity? “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.”

The stats on hunger:

  • In this community, 120,040 people struggle with food insecurity (16.3%) with 34,650 of them being children. To see county specific stats visit the Hunger Study/Local Stats page for The Foodbank, Inc.
  • A 2018 report from the Food Research and Action Center ranked Dayton in the bottom quartile (26th worst out of 120 cities) for “food hardship” among families with children, with one in five families reporting trouble obtaining enough healthy food.

Two of the organizations that are highlighted in this issue are working to address food insecurity in the Miami Valley Area - The Foodbank, Inc. and Gem City Market. We hope you find the information valuable for you and your faith community.

The Foodbank, Inc. is a member of Feeding America, the Nation’s Foodbank Network. Private and nonprofit, its mission is to relieve hunger in the community through a network of partner agencies by acquiring and distributing food. Food and related supplies are distributed to a network of pantries, community kitchens, shelters and other charitable programs, all of which support the health and development of food insecure individuals. To see a list of partner agencies, visit their Agency page.

They are supported by generous individuals, corporations and foundations. In addition, The Foodbank receives funding from the Montgomery County Human Services Levy and is a United Way Partner Agency.

Service Area: The Foodbank serves Montgomery, Greene and part of Preble county (Preble is shared with another Foodbank).


Kids Cafe® - provides free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of existing community locations such as after school programs and churches. In addition to providing meals to hungry kids, Kids Cafe® programs offer a safe place, where under the supervision of trustworthy staff, a child can get involved in educational, recreational and social activities. 

Good-to-Go Backpack Program - There are many children throughout the Foodbank’s service area that receive free or reduced lunches at school; but over the weekend, these same children are at a high risk of going hungry. The Good-to-Go Backpack program addresses the needs of 1,500 of these children throughout the area. The backpacks are sent home with specifically identified children every Friday throughout the school year. Each backpack is filled with food children can take home and eat over the weekend. The food is kid-friendly, easy to open and easily prepared. No one but the child knows what is in his or her backpack, thus maintaining the dignity of each participant.

Click here to find a Kids Cafe® or Good-to-Go Backpack Program in your area.

Food Rx: The Foodbank, in partnership with Dayton Children’s Hospital, has created a Food Script Program that will allow physicians and staff to write food prescriptions for hospital patient families who have been identified as food insecure. The food insecure screenings will be conducted by hospital community health workers, social workers, nurses, and staff. The primary target audience for this project are families with children who may be food insecure but are not already receiving food assistance.

Patient families who are identified as food insecure will be referred to The Foodbank’s Drive-Thru Market. Patient families who have a food script will receive a box of family-friendly meals that will include bakery items and fresh produce. Families will be referred to their nearest Foodbank service site to receive ongoing food assistance, as well as help in applying for SNAP and WIC benefits.

The drive-thru is located 3.5 miles from Dayton Children’s Hospital and is accessible by the bus line. Family food boxes will be made and stored at the Foodbank.

For more information about qualifying for this program please call The Foodbank at (937) 461-0265(937) 461-0265 x26.

Drive-Thru Market was developed in 2018 to help fill the needs of hungry families in the Dayton area, especially those on the west side where the Foodbank is located. They broke ground and completed preparations in May with the senior box program (see more below) starting in July; then shortly after that (in October), they opened to anyone who needed food assistance. This pantry location serves the public, with self-declaration at or below 200% poverty guidelines. Participants must bring a picture ID or piece of mail to prove they live in the area. They use PantryTrak (a food pantry management tool) to determine the 200% poverty guideline for the size of the participant’s household and then the participant signs to confirm that guideline is correct. 

Since inception they have been open once every other week, but in April they will be expanding to once per week. A large majority of the food they provide is fresh produce that is provided by the USDA and locally sourced farmers. 

Senior Box Program is for those 60 or older, making at or below 130% poverty guidelines. Currently the Foodbank distributes 1100 of these senior boxes each month. The boxes include senior-friendly food that is easy to make such as whole wheat spaghetti, fresh produce, and canned protein like chicken or ham. Each box contains 34 lbs. of food or 28 meals for a senior every month. The monthly box can be picked up every Thursday when the drive-thru is open. Other sites and organizations also help them to distribute the boxes. 

As part of the Senior Box Program, the Foodbank has 70 raised growing beds. These beds are used to raise fresh produce for the senior boxes. In 2018, they grew 7,000 lbs. of food to use in the boxes.

Applications for this program can be found on their website or call them at (937) 461-0265 x33 to have the application sent.  Once the application is completed and approved, the Foodbank will figure out the closest location for the senior to pick up their box.

Mobile Farmer’s Market serves individuals with a lack of transportation in areas of high food insecurity. The Foodbank takes a truck full of fresh produce and other available food items to 27 different sites every month across their tri-county service area. Last month (February 2019), 1,858 households received food through the mobile pantry.

If you or someone you know needs help with food assistance, please contact the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area’s Helplink. Dial 2-1-1 or 225-3000 or visit The Foodbank’s Website to see locations and times for the Drive-Thru Market and Mobile Farmer’s Market.

The Gem City Market - Since 2015, members of the Dayton, Ohio community have worked to promote food access in our city. Thanks to community advocates in the city, they are now poised to open a worker and member-owned full-service grocery store in Dayton.

This market will be a vibrant, community-centered, full-service grocery store located along lower Salem Avenue, near downtown Dayton. The store will feature affordable, quality, kitchen staples, including well-stocked fresh produce and meat departments, as well as specialty, local and organic products that make the store a unique draw. Well-trained and friendly worker-owners will ensure exceptional service, and a community space will offer healthy food and nutrition classes and programing accessible to all.

The Gem City Market project is a community-led initiative coordinated by Co-op Dayton. Co-op Dayton was founded in 2015 by members of the Dayton community committed to the twin missions of addressing Dayton’s food crisis and incubating cooperative businesses to bring sustainable jobs to Dayton. The Co-op Dayton steering committee includes residents of the neighborhoods where the store will be located, as well as a diverse set of representatives from Dayton anchor organizations, including universities, healthcare and faith institutions.

Gem City Market will open in 2020 on Salem Avenue just across the Great Miami River from Downtown and membership applications can be found at You are not required to live in Dayton to become a member of the Gem City Market.

Additional information on the Gem City Market can be found at including:

  • Who is developing Gem City Market (GCM)?
  • What will they sell?
  • What is a food dessert?
  • What is a Co-op? What is a Multi-stakeholder Co-op?
  • What is Member-Owner?
  • Why should I become a Member-Owner?
  • How much is a membership?
  • Who can become a Member-Owner?
  • Is there an age requirement for membership?
  • How much will GCM cost and how will they raise it?
  • And more…

Do you know someone that might be interested in becoming a member of Gem City Markets but cannot afford the full membership price? Read more in this Press Release about a new Membership Match Program released by Premier Health on March 7, 2019! (excerpts from the original press release)

“Premier Health announced today a second gift to Gem City Market for the creation of a Membership Match program for the surrounding neighbors of the Gem City Market and for Premier Health employees. This contribution will provide $50 vouchers for 800 families, a total gift of $40,000.

This latest gift is in addition to a five-year, $400,000 commitment that the health system made to the Gem City Market in late 2017…

The Membership Match program will pay half of the cost of a $100 membership. Eligible participants must live in select ZIP codes – 45402, 45405, 45406, 45416, 45417 and 45426 – and/or be a Premier Health employee. The program will begin taking applications on March 7, 2019. Applications can be found at

‘We are tremendously excited about this new initiative and appreciative of Premier’s continued support. Increasing ownership opportunities is directly aligned with the Gem City Market’s mission and furthers our work turning this community vision into a reality,’ said Ambassador Tony Hall, Founder, Hall Hunger Initiative.”

If you live in one of the target zip codes: 45402, 45405, 45406, 45416, 45417 and 45426, or are a Premier Health employee, check out the link above to the Gem City Market!

Article written by Michelle Randall, Program Coordinator for the Health Ministries Program

Sources: Lora Davenport, Advocacy & Programs Manager, The Foodbank, Inc., Premier Health and the following websites: USDAThe Foodbank, Inc. and Gem City Market

Contact Us

The health ministries program is honored to be serving faith communities in Southwest Ohio for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of their congregations. To learn more about how we can assist your faith community, contact us.

Michelle Randall, Program Coordinator
1046 Brown St. (Catholic Social Services building, second floor)
Dayton, Ohio 45409
Phone: (937) 227-9454(937) 227-9454
Fax: (937) 341-8838

Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

We are often out in the community at meetings and working with faith communities. If you want to stop by the office, we recommend that you call or email first.