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Ohio Advocates Register Voters At Drive-Through Food Pantry

Demand at the Nelsonville food pantry increased after the government shutdown, during which SNAP payments were altered for funding reasons.
Nick Evans
/
WOSU

On Columbus’ far South Side, voting groups are using a drive-through food pantry to encourage voter registration. 

At Hosack Baptist Church, volunteers are directing traffic and preparing to hand out pre-packed boxes of fresh produce meat and dairy, as part of the USDA’s Field to Families program. With the truck delayed, patrons quickly filled a separate parking lot and line up in the main lot three rows deep.

As visitors work their way through to pick up food, a different team of volunteers like Cathy Schilling from the League of Women Voters will be getting them registered them to vote.

“There’s three of us volunteers from the League, and we’re going to try to stay ahead of the line so we don’t hold things back," Schilling explains. "And just talk to people see if they’ve been registered, check for them if they don’t know, and register them. We can also do absentee balloting.”

Schilling came to the voter registration efforts through volunteering at a different food pantry, and says it goes hand in hand with helping people facing food insecurity.

“Voting probably isn’t foremost on their mind, it’s getting food to eat,” Schilling says. “But it still might be important to them, but to register it might be just a little more overwhelming, so we try to make it easy for people.”

The deadline for voter registration is October 5, and early voting begins around Ohio the next day.