Dollar General settlement gives Ohio foodbanks $750,000

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB/Report for America) — Money from a settlement between Dollar General and the Ohio attorney general will go to foodbanks throughout the state.

The state sued Dollar General in November 2022 after county auditors found the company overcharged customers at stores throughout Ohio. Attorney General Dave Yost announced Thursday that as part of the settlement, Dollar General agreed to pay the state $750,000 so the state could give the money to food banks. The money will be used to purchase food and personal care items.

A file photo of a Dollar General store.
The state accused Dollar General of charging consumers more at the register than the price at which the items in question were listed. [Sue Ogrocki | AP Photo, File]
Ohio Association of Foodbanks Executive Director Joree Novotny expressed gratitude for the funds and said they come at a critical time for the state’s foodbank network.

“We’re serving 30% more people than we were at the height of the pandemic, and 60% more than we were prior to the pandemic,” Novotny said. “We’ve seen ourselves now serving more than 3.8 million food pantry visitors in a quarter, and that’s been the case for the past two quarters.”

Novotny attributed the rapid rise in demand to a range of factors, including inflation, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine. The rollback of expanded SNAP benefits in March also had a significant impact.

“Since then, from March through our most recent quarter (that) ended in September, we saw that number (of people served) skyrocket more, as some of those lower-income SNAP consumers who were getting more help stopped getting it and had nowhere else to fill that gap,” Novotny said.

Each county in Ohio with at least one Dollar General store will receive $1,000 from the settlement. The remaining funds will be distributed according to how many stores each county has.

HAPCAP Development Director Eva Bloom said the Southeast Ohio Foodbank would reach out to auditors in the counties it serves to inquire about receiving funds from the settlement. Bloom tentatively estimated that the counties in its service area would be eligible for about $40,000.

County auditors have until Nov. 30 to choose an organization in their county to receive the money.