As Volunteers Stay Home, National Guard Deployed To Help Distribute Food

Mar 23, 2020

Nearly 400 Ohio National Guard personnel have started a mission in a dozen sites around the state in the fight against coronavirus. They’re working at 12 food bank locations.

Col. Matthew Woodruff is the Joint Task Force commander for the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of Columbus. He said all of those 385 soldiers deployed are volunteers, and all are paired with food banks near their homes.

“These soldiers, these Ohio military reserve members, are part of these communities. And we specifically selected people from the communities that we’re serving in today," Woodruff said.

The soldiers are replacing volunteers, often older people, who have bowed out because of concerns about exposure to coronavirus. They’re packaging food, running food pick up drive-throughs and delivering food to homes.

And Gov. Mike DeWine has suggested other missions are likely, such as setting up tents at hospitals.

Food bank operators say the need is increasing, as people lose their jobs because of business shutdowns related to coronavirus. Marilyn Tomasi with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective in Columbus said the number of families seeking food assistance has doubled since the pandemic began.