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Ohio's Food Banks Surprised By Plan to Close Prison Farms

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks' Lisa Hamler-Fugitt plans to meet with Department of Corrections officials regarding the closing of the prison farms.
The Ohio Association of Foodbanks' Lisa Hamler-Fugitt plans to meet with Department of Corrections officials regarding the closing of the prison farms.
The Ohio Association of Foodbanks' Lisa Hamler-Fugitt plans to meet with Department of Corrections officials regarding the closing of the prison farms.
Credit OHIO ASSOCIATION OF FOODBANKS
The Ohio Association of Foodbanks' Lisa Hamler-Fugitt plans to meet with Department of Corrections officials regarding the closing of the prison farms.

Ohio’s plan to close its prison farms could have an impact on the state’s food banks.

The announcement last week that the state would sell the farms to concentrate on other prisoner-rehabilitation programs was a surprise to LisaHamler-Fugitt. The head of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, says that’s because the farms have provided more than 800,000 pounds of vegetables to the state’s food banks since 2008. About 220 inmates work on the prison farms at peak-season, andHamler-Fugittsays agriculture can still be a viable career for ex-offenders despite what prison officials cited last week as the reason for selling the farms.

“Food is grown by farmers, commodity producers, ranchers, livestock producers [and] we always need more workers in those industries. And agriculture is Ohio’s #1 industry.”

Hamler-Fugitt says the partnership has worked well for inmates and for the one-in-six Ohioans who rely on a food bank.

“We purchase all of the seeds, fertilizer, supplies, equipment, anything that they need for the inmates to plant not only vegetables but also cash-commodity crops.”

Hamler-Fugitt says she’s meeting with Department of Corrections officials this morning to stress the importance of the partnership with the foodbanks.

The state has about 12,500 acres of prison farmland, including nearly 3,000 acres in Lorain County and Warren County.

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