How Our State-Funded Food Programs Boost the Economy

April 18, 2023 00:34:48
How Our State-Funded Food Programs Boost the Economy
Just a Bite
How Our State-Funded Food Programs Boost the Economy

Apr 18 2023 | 00:34:48

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Show Notes

The primary benefit from making sure that every person has the wholesome food they need is that fewer people suffer the indignity and harm of hunger. But did you know there are many other benefits to hunger relief? Today we’re going to dive deeper into one less commonly explored way that our state-funded emergency food programs benefit Ohio: through the indirect economic activity they generate! Economist Dr. Howard Fleeter joins the podcast to talk about his Independent Economic Impact Analysis of our food purchasing programs and the economic multiplier effects that come with food assistance! 

References: 

Read the latest Independent Economic Impact Analysis for our State-Funded Food Programs, as prepared by Dr. Fleeter. 

 Review our request for increased funding for the Ohio Food Program and Agricultural Clearance Program and add your name to our list of supporters for this request.  

Learn more about Dr. Howard Fleeter’s career, experience, and areas of expertise and what makes Fleeter & Associates Ohio’s premier public policy research firm.  

Find your local foodbank to find help, volunteer, and donate here.         

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Ohio Association of Foodbanks is aregistered 501c3nonprofitorganizationwithout party affiliationorbias.We are Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger and our mission is to assist Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks in providing food and other resources to people in need and to pursueareas of common interest for the benefit of people in need.   

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:20 The primary benefit from making sure that every person has the wholesome food they need, is that fewer people suffer the indignity and harm of hunger. But did you know there are many other benefits to hunger relief? Today we're going to dive deeper into one less commonly explored way that our state funded emergency food programs benefit Ohio Through the indirect economic activity they generate economist, Dr. Howard Fleeter joins the podcast to talk about his independent economic impact analysis of our food purchasing programs and the economic multiplier effects that come with food assistance. Speaker 0 00:01:06 Welcome Speaker 2 00:01:08 Everyone, to just a bite. This is joy, and I'm so thrilled to have with us today Dr. Howard Fleeter, who we've had the privilege of working with for several years on, on several different projects. Uh, Dr. Fleeter is really well known, um, for lots of reasons. Um, I'm just gonna give you a little background on his experience and the expertise that he brings to our conversation today and our shared work. Dr. Fleeter received his bachelor's from Northwestern University and his PhD in economics from the University of California Berkeley. And for about a decade, he was a faculty member in the School of Public Policy and Management at Ohio State University, where he taught courses in public sector economics, public finance, and state and local government finance. Um, he's been, he was originally with the Richard Levin and William Driscoll firm as a partner in research. Um, and then with the consulting firm, Levin Driscoll and Fleeter, and now with his firm Howard Fleeter and Associates, which he has, um, led since 2013. And we are really thrilled to have him on just a light. Thanks for being here. Speaker 3 00:02:18 Thanks, joy. I'm happy to be here. So thank you for the kind introduction. So, Speaker 2 00:02:24 Well, I, I feel lucky to get to work with you on, on projects. I know you, you are in demand, let's put it that way. A lot of people rely on your expertise and your, um, wisdom and experience, uh, you know, in state and local economic and public policy and how, where those things intersect. So maybe you could start just by giving listeners a taste of one or two of the stories from over the years. Um, you know, are there any economic analysis projects you've been involved with? Do you wanna reach into the, the historical records and Speaker 3 00:02:55 Share reach into, reach into the vault? So, yes. Um, so yeah, I've been doing this since, you know, like I got, um, you know, I'm from suburban Cleveland, and then I left to go to college and grad school, and then I got back to Ohio in 1989 when I started my job at osu. And so I've been working on state and local government finance issues in Ohio for over 30 years. And so I do, I do a lot of work on education policy. I've done a lot of work on the school funding formula. I do work on state and local taxes. I work with a lot of, um, you know, the public service organizations. I work with the schools, I work with the libraries. I work with, uh, you folks. Um, so I, I, you know, I I I'm one of the, you know, I taught in a public policy school, right? Speaker 3 00:03:40 And I taught economics to people who wanted to go into public sector work, you know, and the idea is that, you know, the old joke about, you know, I'm here from, I'm from the government and I'm here to help. Right? I actually believe that, right. That government mm-hmm. <affirmative> can do, government has a role to play in our society that there's problems that need to be solved, that market. There's, you know, what economists call market failures, right? There's lots of things that slip through the cracks. Markets are good at being efficient. They're not good at being equitable. Right. And there's a lot of, a lot of room for government to make people's lives better in lots of different ways. Right. And, you know, that's what I do. I analyze data and answer questions for people about programs to try and do things that will help in one way or another. Speaker 3 00:04:25 I do, um, especially lately, a lot of work on things where there are programs that may not be pushing things in the right direction, um, and how those might, might work as well. But, you know, I've, I've worked on a lot of different things, right? And I, you know, I also do economic impact analysis, right? So my old business partners, rich, and Bill and I, we, back in 2004, we did the economic impact analysis for Honda for their first 25 years in Ohio. And that was maybe the most interesting project I've, I've worked on, right? And we, we figured out that there was like a, a 27 to one benefit to cost ratio for the state, for the amount of money that they subsidized Honda to come in, versus what Honda was able to produce for the state in terms of economic development, you know? Speaker 3 00:05:11 And that, that was a fascinating project that's been relevant in the last year because Intel mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, them showing up in Licking County, right? And that project's under development now, that is the biggest economic development project in Ohio since Honda came here. And so, makes it interesting, you know, there's a big push right now in the legislature to reform our tax system, the income tax mm-hmm. <affirmative> property tax. And people are arguing, you know, it's gonna make the state more competitive. We just got one of the most sought after private enterprise projects in the country right now. I mean, I sit where I sit with my experience, and I think we did that with our current tax structure. There must be something that we're doing, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, um, I do an interesting project for the libraries where it's this return on, on investment analysis, and people go to libraries and they get stuff for free books. Speaker 3 00:06:01 Mm-hmm. <affirmative> audio books, reference materials, ukuleles, they, they circulate a lot of ukulele, jumper cables. Um, there's a lot of stuff you can get from your local library mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so, you know, we developed this like return on investment calculator, right? And we can show, you know, at the state level that for every dollar that libraries spend in Ohio, there's a four to four to $5 benefit return to their patrons, right? Yeah. Dollar that's spent. So, again, you know, I, I sit here thinking government can do good things, right? You, you need to have clear goals and objectives. You need to evaluate it, and you need to be flexible and look at things and say when something's not working or when it needs to be changed. But there's, there's a lot of needs out there. And the stuff with the food banks, we've seen that in the last several years, right? The, the need for government to step in and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, help people that aren't in a position to help themselves. Speaker 2 00:06:55 So yeah, that library project is really similar in a lot of ways with, with the, the project. We're gonna talk a little bit more about today in depth. Um, you know, it made me think about the receipt I print every time. Um, I take my kiddo to the library and it tells me all the hundreds of dollars we've saved on books this year. So, um, I love that. And similarly, you know, I think us, we in the hunger relief world primarily think about our role in preventing hunger, reducing food insecurity, meeting people's basic needs, supporting, you know, their access to, to healthy, wholesome food. But we also wanna make sure that we're assessing the downstream impacts of that intervention, um, in lots of ways. And sometimes we talk about that in terms of, um, the impact it has on health outcomes, um, the impact that it has on other, um, economic stability indicators. And, uh, today we're gonna talk a little bit about the economic impact analysis that you recently completed for our state funded food programs that we operate at the Ohio Association of Food Banks. So, I count myself among the laymans, and I think our listeners mostly do as well. So can you walk, uh, us laymans through the methodology that you use for that economic impact analysis to estimate the economic impact of our emergency hunger relief programs? Speaker 3 00:08:17 Sure. So I think maybe the first place to start is just explaining to people what those programs are, because you know, a a lot of people probably probably don't know, right? So there's several things that the state of Ohio funds, right? So one of 'em is called the Agricultural Clearance Program, where you're buying produce from farmers, and you're distributing it, you know, to, to people who need it. There's the Ohio Food Program where you're, um, you're buying like shelf stable, um, staple items and things like that, and getting those to people. There's a series of summer food programs, right? So there's mobile farmer's markets, there's a, um, you know, the backpack called the Backpack program, which is like rural, um, weekend, weekend food, right? There's rural, um, food delivery programs, right? Those are particularly important for kids when you talk about implications of hunger. You know, one of the things that we know is it's really hard to learn if you're a kid mm-hmm. Speaker 3 00:09:09 <affirmative>, you're going to school hungry, right? And so food programs in schools are really important, but when the school isn't in session over the summer, these kids, it's not magically like food will appear for them, right? Getting, getting food for them is really important. And so, you know, and then there was some, um, CARES Act funding, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> the last couple, the last couple of years for additional emergency food programs, 33.3 million has been allocated last year in state fiscal year 2022 towards food support programs, right? And, you know, that's the first thing, probably most people in Ohio probably aren't aware of that, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if you're aware of the programs, the magnitude of it, right? 33.3 million is a lot of money. And when you turn that into, you know, what, what does that get you? It gets you about 45.5 million pounds of food that was purchased that translates into about 39 million meals, right? Speaker 3 00:10:07 That's, that's a lot of, that's a lot of meals for people who need them. And one of the ways that you can evaluate this is, you know, there, there's, there's two benefits of this, right? You know, one is just the benefit of the food itself to people who, right, right, right. And that, you know, there's lots of offshoots of that, right? You said, like, there's health considerations for that, right? For kids, they're better able to learn, um, when they're, when they're well fed. Then there's also, just to somebody like me, I'm an economist, there is just a general economic benefit to the state of putting money into this, right? And so the state is funding these food programs, right? And what we can do is we look at it in the same, you know, in a similar way to the investment for Honda, there are these things that are called economic, um, multiplier models, and they are designed to look at the ripple effects, right? Speaker 3 00:10:59 Every time I spend a dollar somewhere that's got a benefit, right? Right. You know, the person that I'm buying something from is gonna have that as income. They're gonna turn around and they're gonna respend it. Right? And that there's ripple effects for that. And there's several different economic multiplier models that are out there that try to capture these, um, benefits for all the different industries that you have in, in the state. So when I looked at the Honda Project, you're looking at the automotive industry, you know, and, and, um, when you're looking at the food programs, right? You know, there's multipliers for agriculture, right? I've, I've done economic impact analysis for several different players in Ohio's agricultural, um, sector, right? I've done it for soybeans, I've done it for the dairy industry. I've done it for the poultry industry. I've done it for, um, the veal manufacturers, right? Speaker 3 00:11:50 I mean, I've, I've looked at a, and so basically what you're doing is that you are, these people are spending money producing their product, and they buy inputs from people and they take their profits and that they respend it, you know, on the things that they buy in their area. And all these things are ripple effects. So you've got the direct benefit of th $33.3 million in spending, and then you've got the indirect benefits that come from resending all of this money, right? You know, the money that is paid to the farmers through the ag clearance program and to the food providers through the Ohio Food Program and through the summer programs. Those then ripple through Ohio's economy. So basically what I do is I look and I see, you know, not all of the food that is purchased with this 33.3 million in expenditures comes from Ohio, right? Speaker 3 00:12:36 Some of it comes from outside that, particularly there've been supply chain issues and some other things. So, um, in actually this year, the percentage of food that came directly from Ohio is a little lower than it was in previous years. But what we do is we look at the amount of this money that's staying in the state, and then the economic multiplier models can then say, okay, they've created this much in additional output. They have this much in additional income, and this much in terms of additional jobs that have been created because of the resending of this money, and it's circulating throughout the economy mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so, you know, if you want me to, you know, I can read through my entire report, but that might not be the best use of all of our time. So I can Speaker 2 00:13:17 We'll definitely link to the full report. Everyone can see that on our show notes. Absolutely. Speaker 3 00:13:21 Right. But I mean, I, I can, you know, cut to the chase here. And essentially the food purchases was about 27 million in direct impact. And then transportation storage and administration was about another 6 million, and that's about 33 million. The value of the Ohio share of that output was 18 million. So on that 18 million, the indirect impact, the, the additional impact that comes from all these economic ripple effects, that was almost 20 million. So the total economic impact is 38 million, and it created 11 million in additional income and 312 additional jobs in addition to just the benefits of the food to the people that you Right. Right. Absolutely. We're not even counting that. Right. You know, and that there's, you know, there's other people that get it that, you know, that try to quantify that value in other ways, but just the bare economic nuts and bolts of this, that the expenditure that Ohio is making in these food programs, and by buying, you know, by procuring the food from Ohio providers, you create ripple effects that then provide these additional benefits, right? Where, you know, more than doubling the Ohio share of that 33 million, and we're creating additional, you know, again, $11 million in additional income to the providers and then the people that they buy things from and the additional jobs. So it really is, it's a win-win. Speaker 2 00:14:51 Yeah. I remember years ago, um, what's interesting too is that you developed this, um, you know, calculation, uh, related to the multiplier effects, um, in terms specifically of our food programs as you have done and, you know, in many other, um, sectors and looking at many other different expenditures. Um, and then you went out and you spoke directly with our agricultural partners about their personal experiences to see if their personal experiences really reflected what the numbers were telling us. And, you know, that's always stuck with me. And, you know, we knew, we know it theoretically, and we know it again in the methodology, but then to also hear from farmers who talk to us about, if I didn't have this outlet for my seconds, for my, you know, grade B, my, uh, ugly vegetables, right? My wholesome food that doesn't quite meet retail grade, I would just mow that food under. Speaker 2 00:15:48 So they talk one about the food waste that we're, um, you know, we are helping to negate with this, um, model of, of, particularly when it comes to our ad clearance program, and then also about how they're able to give their workers a couple more weeks of wages out in the field, how they're able to extend their employment relationship and g and that's a, you know, a recruitment incentive, especially in a tight labor market. All of those things, um, that, you know, in addition to what we're capturing here, um, in your report. So that's, it's kind of like all those dividends that the investment is paying. Speaker 3 00:16:22 Right. And, you know, and one of the things I've learned, and all the time that I've been doing this, it is that it is never a bad idea for me to get away from my computer and talk to people <laugh>. Right. You know, to give me a reality check. And I learned things about that, and there's things that I wouldn't think of. Right. And, you know, and again, and I, I think, you know, just to clarify for your listeners, you know, the, the AG clearance program isn't just giving food that nobody else wants, to people that you know. Right. Nothing, but that is part of it, right? I mean, that there, the amount of food that is wasted in this country is mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, I, I think I've read something that the amount of food that we throw away would make a very big dent in the hunger problem that we have. Right. And, you know, the AG clearance program and the Ohio Food program into, it's a more efficient way to make sure that we're not wasting food that is in fact consumable. Right. So some of it is, you know, the seconds and things like that, that maybe the grocery store wouldn't half. But, you know, we're not just giving people food that nobody else will. Speaker 2 00:17:18 Sure. Right. Right. So we, Speaker 3 00:17:20 But that is, but that's part, but that's, that's part of this, right? Speaker 2 00:17:23 Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and those, when those markets are really good, right? We have like a glut of apples. We have a really good apple crop and there's excess, and so we are market for those excess apples. Right? Speaker 3 00:17:33 Right. Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, it's, so, it's, it's an, it's an out it's an outlet of it. But again, yeah, again, for a lot of the things I do, like I said, it is never a mistake for me to talk to the people that are actually doing this. Right. Because, you know, it's easy for me to sit here and look at numbers on my computer computer, right. But making sure that you're interpreting the numbers correctly, you, you, you, you know, you really need to be talking to the people that are actually doing this. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> cause assumptions that I, you know, a lot of projects I get, I start not knowing very much about. So I have to educate myself so to make sure that what I think I'm concluding is in fact consistent with what the people that are actually doing it think is going on. Speaker 2 00:18:13 Absolutely. Well, it's been really enlightening for us to get, to continue to see what impact that's having. How can we, um, you know, like you talked about all the food supply chain issues that not only us, but so many are rec reckoning with, um, in all kinds of sectors in addition to not just the pandemic's impact on the food supply chain, but, you know, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, of course, is gonna have long-term, uh, consequences for inputs on the ag side, um, the fertilizer costs and, and those kinds of things. We've got the, you know, you've worked with poultry before. We've still got this avian avian influenza that's lingering and, um, wreaking havoc on those, um, layers. So, uh, yeah, we could talk about economic multiplier effects in so many ways, probably for a few episodes of the podcast. Um, it's so interesting. Um, and I think it's really important for us to stay rooted, not only in just that we believe deeply that our mission to provide food and other resources to people and need matters is important and is the right thing to do, but also that it's not only the right thing to do for, because making sure people have their basic needs met is something we should believe in as Ohioans and Americans. Speaker 2 00:19:29 But because it has dividends for our right economy, um, it's actually harmful to our economy if people are suffering from food insecurity, if they're sacrificing their basic needs. Right. Speaker 3 00:19:40 No, e Exactly. Right. I mean, and this the same thing with ED education, right? It is, you know, right. Don't underestimate the value of human capital, right? Yeah. That, um, you know, and that's a lot of what I work on, right? I mean, is that the value to have? We've got 11 million people in the state of Ohio, right? And trying, you know, I think that the state has a responsibility to try to make 11 million people as successful as they can be. Hmm. Speaker 2 00:20:08 That's what we've been talking about, uh, as well. Um, the impact of the, the loss that we're just now starting to absorb in Ohio and across most of the country, um, of the pandemic AAP benefits, for example, on, um, the mental health and wellbeing of our older adults. Um, we're also advocating for, um, uh, state funded minimum SNAP benefit for older adults who are going to see a, a just incredibly large drop in their SNAP benefits or have seen it. This is the first month that they, they would've normally gotten their second payment of pandemic a SNAP benefits or emergency allotments, right? Around today or tomorrow. Um, this is the first month that, that's not happening, um, since about three years ago. And, you know, we've spoken, we've done interviews with older adults, for example, about how just what an impact on their wellbeing and their ability to interact in their economy, that they could go to the store and shop for the foods that they needed to manage their diets. Speaker 2 00:21:06 Um, you know, they could manage their weight. They could, um, you know, choose the foods that responded to their allergens and their dietary restrictions appropriately, that they had so much less anxiety trying to shop for the foods they need, because they didn't have to constantly be picking coupons and going to five different stores in the middle of a pandemic to, um, you know, to get the food that they wanted and needed. Um, so yeah, I mean, I wonder if you wouldn't mind talking about that a little bit while I have you here about the economic multiplier effects of snap, the U S D A economic research service estimates that SNAP has an, a multiplier effect on G D P of about 1.54, meaning, like you were talking about, every dollar spent in SNAP benefits in a week economy generates about a dollar 54 in economic activity. And like I said, Congress recently ended the pandemic Arab boost to SNAP benefits. That's gonna mean the loss of $126 million per month in federal food assistance from Ohio's economy. So, you know, I could talk all day about what that's gonna mean, but I wonder from your perspective as an economist, could you talk about the negative ripples that that loss might have on economic activity? Speaker 3 00:22:19 Right. So I'm punching my calculator real quickly here. So I mean, $126 million, you know, with a multiplier of 1.54, that's 194 million. Right? And so, you know, the ripple effects work both ways, right. You know, so if you think about throwing the rock in the pond and seeing the ripples and whatnot, um, you know, if you're throwing a smaller rock rather than a bigger rock, there's gonna be smaller ripples. And, you know, that's essentially what you're talking about right now. And again, you know, there's two, two aspects of this, right? One is just the direct benefit to people of, of 126 million in, in SNAP benefits, right? And what that allows them to do, and like you talked about, the autonomy that they have and the, you know, improved quality and variety of food that, that, that they have mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, you know, nutrition, and then just the sufficiency of the food just to have, being able to have enough food, right. Speaker 3 00:23:15 That, that's the direct benefit of that. And we know that that by itself is important, right? But again, you know, if you have $126 million less, that is circulating through Ohio's economy as a result of this, that is going to contract, right? And, and so it will have a negative impact on overall what I call output. And, you know, they're calling G D P, that's GDP is the way we, me, gross domestic product is the way we measure output in, in this country, right? Those are the same things. And then it's gonna have an income effect, and it's gonna have an employment effect as well. And all those things are gonna be negative when you're, you're contracting that. And so, you know, I think, you know, that the, the main reason to provide these benefits is because people need them. Right? The ancillary reason is that it's, you know, it does ripple through and it benefits people in that industry and in other industries just from people spending the money that they have from this. Speaker 3 00:24:14 So, you know, it is something to think about. You know, one of the things, you know, yesterday, I've finally got to the pile of papers that I've accumulated over the last year or so, right? And they were in my wife's way, and she said, can you really go through those? And I was going through them. And so yet last night I ran across something that I had saved from, you know, September, uh, 14th of 2022. And it was the story pandemic aid cut poverty to a record low in 2021. You know, one of the things we've learned from the pandemic was government spending works, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, I think that we learned it wor it worked even more than maybe we thought it would. It's interesting, right? In the recession of 2008 and 2009, I think most economists would tell you that the response, the government response to that was probably too little. Speaker 3 00:25:03 I think some people think, wow, baby, did we do even a little bit too much in response to the pandemic? I don't know that we did. Um, you know, that, that, that's a question we probably won't be able to answer for several more years, right? But at the time, the pandemic, we, this was something that literally nobody had ever lived with. And airing on the side of doing more rather than less, I think made a lot of sense. But what we have unequivocally learned, right, is that what we did do had a huge impact on people, right? And so, you know, the thing here, the poverty rate fell to 7.8% down from 9.2% the previous year. And this is according to the supplemental poverty measure, right? Which is something which is a modification of the old, the, the, the old-fashioned poverty measure that doesn't take into account the value of government benefits and things like that. Speaker 3 00:25:54 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so the child tax credit and some of the other enhanced spending that we made, we made a dent in this, right? We, we know how to solve some of these problems, right? And again, you know, the premise that I have, the reason that I went to grad school, the reason that I chose to get my first job in a public policy school, the reason that I do the work I do working with policy makers and whatnot, is because I believe government has a positive role to play in people's lives, right? And mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, if there was a silver lining from the pandemic, which was, you know, horrible in a lot of different ways for a lot of different people, what we learned is that the power of government to, to ease people's burdens, right? Is, is a real thing. Mm-hmm. Speaker 3 00:26:35 <affirmative>, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it's, um, it's a double-edged sword. I mean, it, it, it's really powerful to know that, right? And at the same time, really frustrating when you see, see us healing back on things that we've seen that have worked, right? Yeah. And so child, the child tax credit, you know, one, one of the, the other things that was done, I talked about, um, food for kids in school, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> from two years of the pandemic that the federal free and reduced price lunch program became, basically all schools were providing breakfast and lunch to any student that wanted it, right? And that was an, you know, that that was an unambiguously positive thing, and that, that federal program has been rescinded and right. Ohio and a lot of other states are looking back at that and thinking, is this something that was a good enough idea that we wanna just extended ourselves? Speaker 3 00:27:24 You know, again, if, if you wanna look for silver linings out of the pandemic, right? A lot of the things that government did to step into an emergency that n literally nobody alive had lived through since 1918, was the last time we had a pandemic like this. You know, a lot of the things that we did, I think proved to be really effective. And so, um, now what we need to do is just figure out a way to, um, get enough support to continue doing some of these things, right? I mean, who's, who's against reducing poverty? Speaker 2 00:27:58 Well said. And yeah. And in addition to, I guess I'll j I'll just say from my perspective on a final note, that in addition to both meeting people's basic needs and doing the right thing, because making sure that people aren't going hungry is the, is part of our value set as Americans. That, and the point that you, the really significant point you made about the ripple effects that that has on our overall economies from, you know, preventing food deserts from getting worse and worse, right? If, if a high percentage of people in a community or across neighborhoods can't afford to purchase their own food, then a grocery store is not gonna be able to stay in business there. And anyone in that community that could purchase food for themselves isn't gonna have somewhere to purchase it. We account on each other, right? To, to be in a local, national, and global economy. Speaker 2 00:28:53 Um, you know, we're depending on each other, right? We're interconnected. And then in addition to that, the SNAP benefits in particular, contrary to I think a lot of misconception, those pandemic era boosts to the benefits really benefit benefited working families the most, right? So workers who were trying so hard every day to stay in those high demand jobs. Um, you know, our frontline workers, our direct care workforce, our first responders, our, um, the aids, the cafeteria workers, all of the folks who are in retail jobs that we're all counting on, um, uh, you know, sanitation, sanitation jobs, construction, you name it, um, all those, all those common sectors that we know about are really the backbone of our economy that we interact with, um, every day in our lives and count on, um, benefited the most significantly from those enhanced benefits. And so they're gonna see the most significant reduction in those benefits. Speaker 2 00:29:52 And what does that do to their ability to maintain their employment, to keep their vehicle running, to keep gas in the car, to get to work every day, to pay for the childcare that they count on, um, all those things, right? To invest in the education they need to get the next better paying job that they want. So there's another layer as well that I think we, we forget often that investing in food security is also investing in our workforce. Because unfortunately, a large number of people who work every day and play by all the rules can't afford enough food. Speaker 3 00:30:25 Right? And, and, you know, we've been talking for a half hour and we, you know, I'm an economist. We haven't mentioned the word inflation, right? And, you know, inflation has been, that has, that has been the biggest economic issue over the last, um, little more than a year or so, right? And we've seen inflation, you know, was the highest it had been in 30, 40 years, right? It is coming down. But, um, it is still higher than it has been. And, um, food, food cost have gone up significantly, you know, in the grocery store, in fast food restaurants, in regular restaurants, right? We've still got staffing issues with some, with places, right? <affirmative>, there's supply chain issues. You know, we, we have, we are, we're not back to, nor we are not back to, to normal yet from the pandemic. And you know, what you talked about is, I think one of the things we learned is the people that were most affected by the pandemic are the people in lower playing jobs in public facing jobs, right? Speaker 3 00:31:20 And mm-hmm. <affirmative>, single parent families. I'm older than you, my kids are grown. I can't imagine what it would've been like a couple years ago to be trying to work from home while my kids are trying to do remote school or something like that. Imagine trying to do that, you know, if you're a single parent, right? And if you're in a job mm-hmm. <affirmative> that you can't do remotely, right? What do you, what do you do? I, I have the type of job where I can do it remotely and, you know, my, my life was changed, but not as significantly as somebody that had to go into work in a risky situation before there were vaccines trying to jug hold their family's needs, their kids' needs. Um, while things are getting more expensive, while you can't find things right. I mean, they're, they're, the economy is better at being efficient than it is of being equitable. Speaker 3 00:32:04 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's not always efficient either, right? But certainly the pandemic did realize that certain people are in different circumstances than other people. And again, you know, we learned that there are things that you can do that can ease those circumstances. And I would like the lesson that we take to be, to say, you know, continue doing them. You know, and again, don't do it mindlessly can keep looking at whether things work, whether there's other ways to change them, whether you need to modify something at some point, right? Just cuz you're doing some, whether it's, you know, the private sector or the government, you don't need to do it that way for eternity. But we did learn that there's needs that are out there and that there's ways for the government to step in and fill them. And the pandemic has largely receded, but a lot of those needs, at least for certain people, have not gone away. Mm-hmm. Speaker 2 00:32:53 <affirmative>. Well, I hope that come July when we get through this state biennial budget process, we'll be able to talk with you about plans for evaluating the impact of school meals for all Ohio kids and additional funds for emergency food providers and an older adult minimum snap benefit. And that we can look forward to evaluating the positive ripple effects that those all have on, on, not only food security, but on our local and state economy. Thanks so much for being here, Howard. It was great to have you with us. Speaker 3 00:33:25 Yeah. Thank, thank you so much for having me on the show. I, I enjoyed it and I really value the work that you all do with the Food Banks Association and try to help people who need Speaker 2 00:33:35 It onward. Thank you. Speaker 1 00:33:46 Our thanks to Dr. Fleeter for the generosity of his time and for sharing his expertise with just a bite. Listeners, please visit Ohio foodbank.org or the show notes for this episode to view his full economic impact analysis, which demonstrates how the state of Ohio's investment in the Ohio Association of Food Bank's food purchasing programs last fiscal year, not only provided nearly 40 million meals to food insecure Ohioans, but also generated 11.2 million in additional income and led to the creation of 312 jobs, primarily in Ohio's number one sector agriculture. We'll talk to you next time.

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