Food Bank Shelves Emptying — Time to Help

Almost empty food pantry Austin Tx. Courtesy KXAN Austin

by James C. Sherlock

Showing the dual effects of inflation — more people need food assistance and the costs of providing that food have risen — a local food bank we have long supported ran out of food this weekend.

First time ever.

The director told us that this is happening everywhere. See empty shelves in Austin Texas above.

If you have not dealt with one, food banks in my experience tend to be exceptionally well run, most by churches, synagogues, mosques or other faith- based organizations.

They screen their clients and keep careful track of donations. Most provide food by appointment or specific days of the week or both.  All that I am aware of have limits on how many times a month each client can access food to make it go as far as possible.

The best ones are hyper-efficient with donations of money. Most staff are volunteers.

I request those readers who can afford it to please try to help. If you have a food bank you already support, help them.

If you do not already give, you can go here and put in your zip code to find local food banks. I tried other sites and web search terms and none of them provided nearly so complete a list.

Donate food, money, your time or perhaps more than one of those.

You will feel good about it and God knows people need the help.

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11 responses to “Food Bank Shelves Emptying — Time to Help”

  1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Thanks, Jim, for this post and reminder. In the Richmond area, FeedMore is the regional food bank. As Larry has indicated, that organization says that money donations go further than donation of food, although they will gladly accept donations of food.

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Food Bank is the spousal unit’s prime charity with donations of food, cash, and her time. Mine is CHKD. Cash only. One of these days, I’m going to screw up my guts enough to volunteer like the spouse does.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Any fiscal conservative worth their salt will recognize the difference between buying individual cans/boxes at retail and case-lots wholesale.

    That’s the power and benefit of centrally managed operations over individual efforts, well-intended but much less productive.

    It’s much less personally satisfying to give the money rather than going in person to buy items- whether it’s food (or emergency supplies for a disaster or overseas help) but it’s a classic heart vs mind thing.

    Folks should actually go visit a Regional Food Bank – it’s forklifts and pallets. Volunteers come and get their orders loaded into their vehicles and then take them to their pantries to distribute. The Food Banks also deliver to schools and homeless shelters… It’s a comprehensive operation.

    It’s a well-designed and operated system. It really does make optimal uses of the dollars.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      First became familiar at the paper 35 years ago, when I was assigned to cover “hunger” in Roanoke but instead discovered how strong the food safety net actually was. Not that the editors wanted that story.

  4. Donating to your local food banks is an excellent way to make sure your charitable contributions benefit people in need within your own community.

    EDIT -If Larry had not blocked me, I would ‘upvote’ his comment, particularly his suggestion to give cash donations instead of food.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    Important to distinguish between a regional Food BANK and individual food pantries out in the community.

    A Regional Food bank is a large operation with paid employees that receives food from various sources including grocery chains and, in turn, distributes the food to the community pantries that are volunteer-operated.

    The Food Banks also require that the community pantries vett the recipients (of Food bank food) to be eligible according to Govt SNAP requirements.

    There are also unaffiliated community pantries not associated with the Regional Food Banks that have other sources of food to include local donations as well as different rules for those who receive the food.

    I’m a big supporter of the Regional Food Bank approach. It’s a large warehouse that also has very large capacity refrigerator and freezer lockers that often hold pallets of things like milk and frozen meat that are then distributed to the local community pantries to put in their smaller freezers and fridges.

    The Regional Food Bank is associated with the Federal SNAP programs that provide surplus farm products like cheese, milk and other products like potatoes and canned stuff.

    They also receive food from grocery stores – that is overstock and food approaching “best if used by” dates, etc.

    And they also receive cash donations and things like turkeys from the larger grocery chains.

    And they receive money from private donations as well as some Federal money.

    AND they do buy – In Bulk , at wholesale prices , vastly better than individual folks buying cans at retail and donating. A dollar donated is worth 3-4 of retail-purchased product.

    What they have (or not) and how much does vary so sometimes it’s an embarrassment of riches and other times just no supply of some things.

    Virtually every place in Virginia has a Regional Food Bank. They don’t usually “run out of food”.
    They can and do marshal large amounts of food but they need the community pantries to get it into the communities.

    The urge for many of us is to do something “good” , by purchasing something at retail. I urge folks to consider sending a cash donation to the regional food bank. It will go a lot further towards helping others.

    Virginia Regional Food Banks:

    Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
    Capital Area Food Bank
    Feed More, Inc.
    Feeding Southwest Virginia
    Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank
    Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore
    Virginia Peninsula Foodbank

    1. Randy Huffman Avatar
      Randy Huffman

      I support all of the above, the need is definitely large enough.

      In Charlottesville there are local food banks (one in particular I know pretty well and have volunteered at) that buys food from Blue Ridge and follow the Federal guidelines for food that goes to eligible clients, but also gets other food donations and provide that food to those who are not registered, and to supplement what eligible clients get sourced from Blue Ridge.

      I agree cash donations go alot further than retail purchases, but the local food banks have operating costs whether they get it from the Regional or not (they also get alot of food from grocery stores), so they need everyone’s support.

      There is a place when food donations makes sense. Like teaching our kids to collect food, Scouting for food is a good example. Another is when someone throws a party and asks no presents be given, bring food instead.

  6. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Yep, if Christmas actually matters to you might consider this the present for the honoree. Mine went in today via the local Christmas Mother Fund, which also covers food aid.

  7. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    Nice to be reminded — thanks!

  8. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    My company participates in this fun way to do a food drive:

    Our build is done for this year but the food banks will always take donations, of course…

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      That’s a good way to draw folks into it and as you say, have fun doing it!

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