One of every seven residents in the Cincinnati tristate area lives in poverty, meaning that more than 80,000 families in our community lack access to basic necessities, such as adequate food, shelter, transportation and clothing. This lack of basic necessities perpetuates a cycle of instability, which can often lead to loss of employment, homelessness and even hunger.
While community organizations like Freestore Foodbank offer programs that combat hunger in the community, they also work to provide support services for low-income families. These resources focus on helping families in crisis build stability and self-reliance, giving them the connection and hope they need to grow and succeed beyond hunger.
Resources for Low-Income Families
There are many programs available at the federal, state and local levels to assist families in need and ensure they have access to resources that help them thrive.
- Food Banks and Community Pantries
One in seven Cincinnati TriState residents is worried about finding enough food to keep themselves and their families healthy. Local food banks and pantries, such as Liberty Street Market, provide access to vital nutrition that addresses the immediate need of hunger, so that families can focus on long-term stability needs like housing or employment.
- Social Services Assistance Programs
Social services benefits from federal or state governments, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food assistance, Medicaid health insurance or Earned Income Tax Credits, are lifelines for families in crisis. However, applying for benefits can be a confusing or lengthy process that requires official documentation such as birth certificates or identification cards. When families are faced with homelessness or a sudden crisis, often this basic documentation is lost, leaving families unable to recover and find stability. To remove barriers to finding consistent employment and housing, Freestore Foodbank’s Customer Connection Center is available Monday through Friday to assist families with questions about eligibility, securing documentation vouchers, or starting the enrollment process.
- Job Training and Placement Programs
Gainful employment is vital to building stability and self-reliance after a crisis. Through job training programs such as LIFT the TriState, Freestore Foodbank provides an opportunity for unemployed and underemployed adults to learn real-life skills and train in growing fields, increasing their ability to find employment. In addition, programs like Back on Track supply free work clothing for community members to wear to job interviews, training and more — helping to build a sense of self and ensure that their ability to find employment is not hindered by lack of access to affordable, professional clothing.
- Transportation Assistance
Low-income families and families in crisis may not always have access to reliable sources of transportation, which can impact their ability to get to and from work, purchase groceries, or receive medical care. Freestore Foodbank’s Transportation Assistance program offers bus passes with transfers to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky residents to help families attend doctor’s appointments or travel to and from work.
- Help Paying Bills
Regardless of the cause, families in crisis have experienced instability that makes it difficult to make ends meet. Freestore Foodbank’s Stabilization Program aims to help individuals define key areas in their life that create barriers to obtaining and maintaining employment. Those enrolled in the program receive an individualized case plan and resources to help them achieve desired outcomes in areas such as housing, employment, medical care, budgeting skills and resolution of outstanding legal issues.
In addition to these services, Freestore Foodbank supplies basic necessities such as soap, shampoo, deodorant and feminine hygiene products to community members in need. Freestore Foodbank staff can also make referrals to other social services agencies for customers dealing with homelessness, disabilities, mental illness, substance abuse and domestic violence.
Families Helping Families
You and your family can support Freestore Foodbank and help low-income families in Cincinnati to grow beyond hunger. Here’s how:
- Donate Clothing
Gently used items, especially professional clothing, are accepted Monday through Friday 8am-5pm at the drive-through bay at the Customer Connection Center.
Volunteers are essential to helping provide food, connection and hope for neighbors in need. Volunteers assist with packing nutritional boxes for students and seniors in the community, sort food donations, provide customer service, and assist with special events throughout the year. Volunteers can also lend their talents and/or industry expertise to dozens of other programs at Freestore Foodbank that offer support to families in crisis.
- Donate Personal Items
Donations of hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, razors and deodorant are accepted through the Customer Connection Center. Organize a drive with family and friends to collect these items and drop them off for families.
When you support Freestore Foodbank with a donation, you help create stability and hope for the more than 80,000 families in need in the TriState area. Together, we can eliminate hunger and provide social services that build a healthy, thriving community.
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