One sad consequence of this recession is that food banks are running short of food to distribute to the needy. This is from an article that recently appeared on CNN’s Money web page.
Nationwide, food banks are reporting a 30% increase in the number of people seeking assistance — double the increase reported just six months ago, according to Feeding America, a network of more than 200 food banks across the country. The organization says food banks serve 25 million Americans of the 35 million it estimates are in need of food banks’s services.
As a result of growing demand, 72% of food banks have been unable to adequately meet needs, resulting in cut backs in the amount of food they make available to pantries that serve food.
“Millions of Americans simply don’t have enough money to buy food,” said Ross Fraser, spokesman for Feeding America. “We’re seeing the needle moving up in terms of how much people make that come to food pantries.”
Food pantries noted that an increasing number of people coming to food banks have recently lost jobs.
“More and more people are coming to us and saying they’ve lost their jobs,” said Jean Warren, executive director of Lutheran Community Services in Wilmington, Del. “People are making choices between paying their gas bill or buying food.”
Many food banks and pantries have been forced to give out less food or limit how many times individuals can come in a given week, according to Stacy Dean, director of food assistance policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Some have even gone to extreme measures, including one food bank in Florida that sold the van it used to deliver food in order to raise money to buy more food.
Warren noted that her organization, which served about 68,000 people last year at 11 locations throughout Delaware, spent its entire 2008 food budget by August. The group had to begin deficit spending until it began to receive more private donations after an appeal.
These food banks are run by volunteers, and they are a great help to many in need, often the working poor with large families to feed. Certainly there will be no shortage of worthy causes to support in the days ahead. But let’s all keep our community food banks in mind.