Economy Troubles Affecting Donations

Wednesday, April 30th 2008, 4:57 pm
By: News On 6

High food prices are leaving the cupboard bare at local food banks. Officials say a weakening economy has lead to fewer donations. The News On 6's Chris Wright reports not only are there fewer donations, but more people are also asking for help from Green Country food banks.

It's a combination that has experts worried.

Just like they do every week, members of Souls Harbor Church loaded up on supplies on Wednesday at the Community Food Bank. But now they need to load more supplies into their truck just to meet demand.

"We have had an increase in the families who come through our pantry, yes," said Carolyn Piveral of Souls Harbor Church.

Other churches say a slowing economy, combined with high food prices, have even forced some former donors to seek help.

"We wouldn't have seen them at all in the past.  Some of them have been people that have donated to us," said Johnny Hobbs of Lighthouse Outreach Church.

The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, which serves 24 counties, says it has yet to reach crisis mode. But if this trend continues, supplying enough food may be a problem.

Numbers are pretty staggering.  In fact, the food bank has 900,000 pounds less of food right now than it did at same point last year.  In fact, there's such a shortage, they've had to go out and buy their own food.

"This is the first year that we've ever had to include it in our budget to purchase food," said Cindy Stevens of Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

Cindy Stevens says it is tough touring the aisles of her food bank. Some of the once full shelves are now empty.

"Annual contributors to our fundraisers and food drives who are saying they just don't have it in the budget this year," said Stevens.

And with some experts expecting food prices to rise by seven percent each year, for the next five years, finding those willing to contribute may become even more difficult. ¤

Food banks say things could get worse when school lets out for the summer. They believe many children who rely on school for meals will look to them for help.

The National Association of Letter Carriers food drive, the largest one in the nation, takes place May 10th.

Local food banks hope that will provide them with the boost they need.