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Food banks and pantries are struggling to meet increased demand. Now's the time to do our part.
IT IS THE most vicious of vicious cycles: The poor economy is leaving people with less disposable income to make food bank contributions, while the same poor economy is causing an increased demand on food banks' stores.
That makes donations and food drives ever more important these days, especially with the holiday season and colder weather nearing. It also makes the people who run the food banks, pantries, and drives the unsung angels of our community.
While a things-could-be-worse optimism may be justified at the news that the economy grew at 1.3 percent in the second quarter, or that retail sales rose 1.1 percent in September, the real-world outlook is not merry.
One local food pantry director laments that her operation saw twice as many families looking for food in September as it has typically seen in recent months, while another reports that her pantry serves 150 families a week now compared with last year's average of about 100. Similar numbers are being reported by food banks and pantries across the region.
To counter this increasing demand, food-gathering enterprises of all sorts are redoubling their efforts to drum up food donations. Direct donations to local food banks and pantries are bolstered this time of year by such benefactions as Boy Scout and Cub Scout drives in neighborhoods across the area, the Zombie Walk on Nov. 3 at Hurkamp Park, and Band Together to Fight Hunger on Nov. 5, when Stafford County's five high school marching bands will gather at Mountain View High to play for food donations.
Certainly many churches, schools, and other organizations will be holding drives and welcoming donations as the holiday season approaches--a cornucopia of opportunities to contribute.
An especially healthy initiative locally is to offer fresh fruits and vegetables in a user-friendly market-style arrangement. Providing a grocery-shelf arrangement for nonperishables and canned goods, when space is available, also allows people to choose foods they know their families enjoy.
The bottom line for area residents this fall is to contribute what you can, in food or dollars, and give yourself a full helping of gratification in the process.