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Food Bank struggling through holiday season

It’s the Catch-22 of food pantries. When times are tough, there are more people who need help putting food on the table, and generally there are less people able to help.

“What we’ve seen this year at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network is unprecedented,” Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network president and CEO Marty White said. White, the chair of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, said the local food bank, based in Verona and serving cities and counties from the Northern Shenandoah Valley to the Lynchburg area in Central Virginia, is seeing its partner food pantries and soup kitchens “struggling to keep up with the masses of folks coming to us for food.”

This comes at the time of the food bank’s largest fundraiser of the year, Holiday Hands Against Hunger, which kicked off last week to help feed the needy throughout the holiday season.

Demand is definitely up this year. According to data from the Blue Ridge Food Bank, the local agency is serving 65,000 people a month, more than 7,000 people monthly than it did two years ago. And the trends aren’t getting any better in that respect. The food bank served 16,000 more people in September 2008 compared to September 2007.

“We are fortunate today that food donations are ahead of last year, but we are not fortunate enough to be ahead of this historic demand. Our goal is to see that every man, woman and child in need of food are able to avoid hunger, and we can’t do that without the generous support of the community,” White said.


Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press