Story by Chris Graham
Imagine not knowing where your next meal is coming from.
For a growing number of families in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia, this isn’t something that is too hard to conjure up in the mind.
Hunger is a reality in our area – yes, even here, in the robust economy of the Valley and the Greater Charlottesville area, there are increasing numbers of children, in particular, who aren’t always certain that there will be food on the table come suppertime.
“People are coming to us asking for help, and we want to help, and we’re doing our best to provide everything that people need. It’s just a matter of, we need help as well to provide that – we need food and also money to help sustain us,” said Ruth Jones of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network, which is based in Verona and serves the Valley and Central Virginia.
That’s the other side of this story that you might not have thought of. Just when times get tight for families on the fringes of the economy, times get tight for those who try to help those in need through their short-term difficulties.
“And this is something that we’re seeing nationwide as a trend with food banks right now where the demand is outpacing supply. And the need is going up – with the rising fuel costs and food costs. It’s just making the need increase. And then we’re not always getting enough food to supply that need,” Jones said.
You can make a difference here. Log on to the food bank’s website at www.brafb.org and find out how you can make a food or monetary donation.
And don’t think of it as a handout, but rather as a hand up.
Just in our immediate area, the food-bank network and its affiliate food pantries served more than 2,000 people in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area and more than 2,500 people in the Greater Augusta area in the month of October, Jones said.
And network-wide, the food bank served more than 49,000 children through its afterschool food programs in calendar-year 2006, Jones said.
That’s a lot of people, a lot of kids, who can stand to benefit from our generosity.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.