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  • Writer's pictureDavid Curtin

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

For most of us, COVID-19 has brought uncertainty to our lives. What will it be like when we go back to work or school? Is it safe to eat in a restaurant? Will there be college football this fall? But for others, the questions are more urgent: Where will I get my next meal?

“These past few months haven’t been easy,” says one Food Forest customer. “My husband and I have both been laid off and furloughed.”

With record-breaking unemployment across Ohio, a rising number of households are having to make the choice between paying rent and paying for groceries. In communities where food insecurity is already a crisis, the pandemic is poised to have a devastating effect.

For older Ohioans or those with underlying health conditions, visiting a traditional food pantry can pose a huge risk. Nonprofits, churches and workplaces that may have been collection sites for food drives aren’t open, and many regular donors may not want to make an extra trip out to drop off food.

So amid all of this uncertainty, how can you safely make an impact and ensure that others in your community get fresh, healthy food?

As part of its mission to improve food access in the communities it serves, Food Forest has been operating a virtual food pantry that makes home deliveries along its Cincinnati-area routes -- and you can help.

Through the Food Forest app, donors can gift grocery credits to those most in need. Recipients can use the credit to choose from over 10,000 items, including fresh meat and produce, as well as locally made foods. The best part? Neither the donor nor the recipient has to leave home, making this a safe method for giving and receiving food.

There are three fast, easy ways to donate to Food Forest’s virtual pantry:

1. Give a direct gift

Donate the gift of groceries to a neighbor who could use a helping hand or a far-away loved one. simply choose the "Gift of Groceries" option in the app. enter their email and the amount you would like to send.

2. Sponsor a discount code

Email to set up your own discount code! Then share that code with the people who need a little extra spending power in their grocery budget.

3. Donate at

Click here to make a donation in any amount, and we’ll make sure your gift goes directly to bringing fresh food to Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky neighbors.

Now, more than ever, it’s up to us to support one another. No matter the size of your donation, each dollar of grocery credits brings us closer to ending food insecurity in our community.

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  • Writer's pictureDavid Curtin

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

During these uncertain times, many of us have fallen into a grocery shopping routine: where we go, what we need to buy, how we’ll protect ourselves and others. When it comes to stocking up on pantry essentials, you can’t beat the convenience and safety of curbside pickup or a recurring delivery from your favorite online retailer.

But have you ever thought about how funneling all your dollars to a single megacorporation affects your local economy? (It’s not great.) Luckily, there’s still a way to enjoy regular, reliable grocery delivery while at the same time supporting small businesses in your community: Food Forest.

A warm, fuzzy feeling

As retail superpowers take a larger share of our paychecks during the pandemic, small local businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Why not “adopt” a local business and make them part of your weekly or biweekly restock -- instead of the big guys -- and feel good about where your dollars are going?

Fresh (like, really fresh) food

One thing you won’t find in a fulfillment center? Fresh produce. Ordering your groceries from local growers ensures that you’re getting the best quality items -- and what’s fresher than fruits and vegetables grown practically in your backyard?

Innovation and new products

When you help keep a small business running with regular purchases, they can spend less time just trying to pay the bills and more time creating a better experience for customers (think new packaging, new flavors, etc.).

And, of course, hometown pride!

Who doesn’t love a “local boy/girl makes good” story? The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Cincy, and by supporting small, local businesses each week, we can encourage others to take the leap and create their own awesome products.

Want to know more about Food Forest (and take your restock routine local)? Download the app on iOS or Android today!

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  • Writer's pictureDavid Curtin

Here’s a trivia question: What type of retail establishment opened 1,800 new locations in the U.S. in 2019 (accounting for 65% of all new brick and mortar stores) and feeds more people than many of the country’s largest grocery chains?

Believe it or not, dollar stores are a big business that’s growing even bigger -- but while they offer easy access to everyday goods, that convenience comes at a price, putting the economies (and health) of the urban and rural communities they serve at risk.

So what’s so bad about discounted canned goods, paper products, and toys? The answer isn’t in what they do sell, but what they don’t: fresh foods. With a smaller, less perishable inventory to manage and fewer employees needed to stock shelves, stores are inexpensive to run.

In some communities, especially low-income neighborhoods, this has meant the loss of independent and even big-chain grocery stores that can't afford to lose business.

What’s more, it’s meant the loss of sources of healthy, nourishing produce in “food deserts,” where residents already may have unreliable transportation or other obstacles to getting to the grocery store.

But startups like grocery delivery app Food Forest are taking a different approach to the problem of access -- one that gives shoppers the ability to enjoy healthy, local foods, regardless of location or income.

With two free weekly restocks, Food Forest brings fresh meat, produce and more to neighborhoods throughout Cincinnati. And by accepting EBT as payment, they’ve further reduced the barriers to healthy food.

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