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    Ohio National Guard member reflects on time spent at food bank

    Ohio National Guard member reflects on time spent at food bank

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Scott Fletcher | Spc. Caitlyn Griggs, a tank system mechanic assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Scott Fletcher 

    37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

    AKRON, Ohio-- Spc. Caitlyn Griggs of the Ohio National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment joined fellow service members to assist the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank during Operation Steady Resolve. In late March, Ohio National Guard members were activated to support various COVID-19 relief missions which included approximately 500 members supporting food banks across the state.. The federal funding provided for COVID-19 relief will allow the National Guard to support the food banks through early August.

    Griggs, along with other members of the 1-145th Armored Regiment, was assigned to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to assist the civilian employees with packaging and distributing food to partner locations and local communities.

    “It has been a very awesome experience,” Griggs said.. “It was nice to not only take over that role of being able to give to them (the public), but, you know, seeing the kids and stuff and being able to smile and interact with them as well as getting them to understand that it was OK that we were there and stuff like that. It is really rewarding.”

    Due to COVID-19, food banks across the state have seen a dramatic decrease in their staffing, most of which are almost entirely volunteers. In response to this crisis, Gov. Mike DeWine activated a contingent of Ohio National Guard and Ohio Military Reserve personnel to staff the food bank in the absence of volunteers.

    “The staff here has been very welcoming,” Griggs said. “Everyone has had really high morale since I’ve been here, and the staff are donating their time on their own, and that says a lot about them as a person. We’ve all become friends here, and it’s really cool to see.”

    In the few short months since the ONG’s activation, many food banks reported unprecedented amounts of food packaged and distributed. Some locations reported numbers equivalent to a year’s worth of work as a result of the ONG’s efforts.

    “We’re incredibly efficient,” Griggs said. “The staff has told me the whole process has shifted dramatically. We get in, we get it done, get the food sorted and packaged, and get it out the door. Then the next shipment comes in and we get it done again.”

    As COVID-19-related restrictions slowly lift, volunteers will steadily return to the food bank, allowing for the Guard members to slowly transition the staffing back to a volunteer-centric workforce.
    While thinking back on her experience with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank staff and volunteers, Griggs wanted to share a special message:

    “Thank you for letting me be a part of this, because it meant more to me than you know. I took every moment that I had with you and the customers to heart, and I’ll take this experience back home with me.”

    The Ohio National Guard has a longstanding tradition of helping those in need, whether at home or beyond. Griggs, along with the rest of her unit members working at the food bank, have proven worthy of that tradition. They will continue to work tirelessly to support their local communities and ensure their food bank partners will remain strong as the Ohio National Guard transitions back to its routine operations .



    Date Taken: 06.18.2020
    Date Posted: 06.30.2020 16:25
    Story ID: 373146
    Location: AKRON, OH, US

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