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Food bank supplies dwindle as economy sours

Posted October 1, 2008

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— Economic woes are taking their toll on the shelves at local charities that provide food to the needy.

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle reported that August donations were the lowest the group in its 19-year history.

"We have a lot of people, a lot of families, a lot of children that really need this food," said volunteer Sheri Oxendine, who packs boxes of food for distribution twice a week at Pathways Holiness Church.

David Griffin, director of the Second Harvest Food Bank, said his charity is "definitely seeing a slowdown" in donations. Second Harvest serves seven counties in southeastern North Carolina and receives most donations from grocery stores, primarily Food Lion.

A souring economy and rising gas and energy prices, however, have sapped the willingness of other companies to donate, Griffin said.

"They are slowing on their donations because of the transportation costs and other things of that nature," he said.

At the same, the number of people the food bank serves jumped 56 percent between 2006 and 2007 – and another 50 percent in 2008.

"Some people are not going to get food, because we are short," Griffin said.

Griffin pointed to bare freezer shelves and warehouse shelves that appeared well stocked.

"When you look at it, it looks that way,but it's a lot of juice and water," he said.

At Pathways Holiness, Oxendine said, she has seen the paradoxical dilemma of dwindling donations and increased need for food.

"We've seen a lot more people coming in that need assistance," she said.

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