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Food banks face challenges as demand increases

The food bank that serves half the state is seeing a surge in the number of people in need.

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KNIGHTDALE, N.C. — The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina says demand for food products has more than doubled over the past few months as a result of the weakened economy.

Some of the 900 nonprofit pantries that receive food from the agency and distribute it to families in need say they have seen as much as a 60 percent increase in the number of families they serve. (Find a food bank.)

Last March, for example, the Community Helpers Service Center in Knightdale was feeding an average of 75 families a week. That number has doubled to approximately 150 families, or an estimated 700 people, this month, the center's president, Billy Neal said.

Neal says the center has seen a 12 percent increase in need this month alone, probably because of new layoffs. It is also providing service to families from across Wake County, including Raleigh, and neighboring Wilson and Franklin counties, who cannot get help from food pantries in their areas.

"Each week, we see an increase in people that are coming, and it’s people that had good jobs," Neal said.

Each Wednesday and Thursday, the center gets deliveries from the food bank. The supply used to be enough to distribute throughout the week. Now, Neal said, most of the supply is given out the day it is delivered.

"We hate to turn them away, but that's what we got to do because there is nothing here," Neal said. "(We've got) more people and less food, and it's going to get worse."

Monetary or food donations can be made to the center at 111 N. First Ave., Knightdale, 27545. Monetary donations can be made online to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.


Mike Charbonneau, Reporter
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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