DeWine activates 300 members of Ohio National Guard to help with food distribution

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a proclamation that will activate approximately 300 personnel from the Ohio National Guard to support efforts due to COVID-19.

According to a press release, the soldiers will support the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Association of Foodbanks around Ohio.

“The National Guard is not involved in carrying weapons. You may see them carrying groceries. They're helping the food bank,” DeWine explained.

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They will be transporting, packaging and distributing food to home in vulnerable areas, community-based locations and partner agencies in rural counties.

“The action I’ve taken to activate the Ohio National Guard will provide support to our food pantries that are low on staff and need help getting food to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said DeWine. “By looking out for our neighbors and following proper health safety guidelines, we will make it through this together.”

Guard members from the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquartered in Columbus have been requested to assist local food distributions in Allen, Butler, Clark, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Hocking, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery, and Summit counties.

“Something the members of the guard are excited about doing,” said Major General John Harris.

Harris explained the real need is at the food banks where many seniors volunteer. Because of the high risk to them from the coronavirus, many, as they should, are staying home.

“They will be going to grocery stores, they will be picking up supplies of food, taking them to the food banks. They will be sorting them,” Harris said.

Harris says guard members are also prepared to be activated for a while, and are ready to fill in if there are corrections officers or similar people who test positive for the virus.

“We're in it for the long haul. We are looking for some future missions the guard might be doing as this situation develops,” Harris said.

Members of the Ohio Military Reserve, a component of the Ohio state defense force, will also be placed on state active duty to coordinate with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks at the food bank locations.

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