Local News

Food Bank demand goes up

Posted November 3, 2011 5:24 p.m. EDT
Updated November 3, 2011 6:43 p.m. EDT

— Officials with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina said Thursday that demand is up 30 percent this year as more people lose jobs and need help.

"The demand is about as strained as it's ever been," Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina CEO Peter Werbicki said.

Werbicki said the organization saw a bump in donations this year due to disaster relief funds after tornadoes ripped through the state on April 16 and Hurricane Irene in August. But as quickly as the food comes in, it goes out to partner agencies, he said.

"We know that our partner agencies' pantries are bare, and they are trying to stretch the product as best they can," Werbicki said. "Probably folks are getting less in a household box than they were from a couple or three years ago. There's just so many new people."

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina distributes more than 3 million pounds of food each month to places like the Community of Hope Ministries in Garner.

Ezekiel Wilson picks up groceries for free twice a month at Community of Hope and said without them he would have to apply for food stamps or other assistance.

"I could be applying for assistance with the bills, but the food that I get from the food bank reduces the costs of purchasing food, so I am able to pay utilities on a monthly basis," he said.

Hundreds like Wilson line up each month at Hope Ministries.

"Nobody wants to say, 'We need help.' We all want to stand on our own two feet, but it's awfully hard when your support goes away," Community of Hope volunteer Gail Hammrick said.

Support went away unexpectedly for Hammrick when her husband lost his job about a year ago. Now, she volunteers at the food bank from which she received food during that uncertain time.

The Community of Hope Ministries Food Bank, located at 601 Saint Mary's St., is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon.

Officials with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh said demand has also gone up for them, especially in Chatham, Nash and Edgecombe counties. They said donations have also slacked off.