DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) Every night thousands across the Miami valley go to bed without a meal.
Fox 45 held a town hall Tuesday on hunger and the factors fueling food insecurity.
"These are our neighbors, if we don’t feed people they can’t produce,” Ambassador Tony Hall said at the beginning of the town hall.
Hall served in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 20 years and is a founding member of the Dayton-Montgomery County Food and Hunger Coalition.
He was one of several panelists Tuesday who weighed in on the area's food desert that's left many without access to fresh food.
“One of the reasons for the food desert is we lost 40,000 jobs here, 40,000 manufacturing jobs over the last few years,” said Ambassador Hall.
Several local grocery stores have also closed in the Dayton area, but many on the panel agreed it's more than just the closings causing families to struggl e to put food on the table.
“A lot of our clients, they are working that come to our food pantry,” said Nicole Adkins, founder of With God’s Grace, which serves about 4,000 families a month. “A lot of them losing jobs, they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from."
“The bottom line, we all know, everyone sitting at this table, is it's a wage issue, it’s not that people don’t want to work,” said Michelle Riley CEO of The Foodbank.
So what is being done to alleviate hunger?
Gem City Market, a co-op full service grocery store, is planned to open up in northwest Dayton.
The markets board president, Amaha Sellassie, said it won't solve hunger in the area but it's a good start.
"Co-ops are community owned and operated and this one will be worker and community owned," said Sellassie. "It’s the notion the community did something together that gives the hope that we did this and we can do more.”
Good work is also happening in Greene County where Bridges of Hope, a Xenia shelter, is not just feeding guests, but also aims to lift them out of poverty.
“Our guest are staying with us, we have the opportunity to not just feed them as they drive up and get food but to really focus on a lot of their needs, housing agencies, find out what’s their story,” said manager, Jill Conkel.
The Miami Valley is feeding more and more people thanks to many of you at home.
“There are so many things you can do to volunteer, House of Bread, Foodbank,” said Montgomery County Commissioner, Judy Dodge.
CareSource and the Dayton Foodbank's mass food distributions is just one example of many partnerships that are making a difference.
“I will tell you, it makes me so proud of Dayton, because we know each other, we can have another 40 partners at this table today who are doing really entrepreneurial things around food,” said Cathy Ponitz, Vice President of CareSource.