Community Storehouse has experienced a slump in summer food donations coupled with a rise in the number of people requesting food, said Travis Adkins, executive director.
Also, the Community Storehouse’s backpack program is getting ready to start back, Adkins noted.
The typical slump in summer food donations is a little worse this year, he said.
Also, there is growing trend of people who never have before sought assistance coming to Community Storehouse’s food pantry, he said. Last month, the food pantry served 994 families, of whom 154 were new, he said.
In all, “we have 2,083 active families in the food pantry,” he said.
As a result of the slump in donations and the increase in clients, the Community Storehouse is giving less food to each family, Adkins said. For instance, the number of frozen meats given per family has decreased from three to two and now one, he said.
He attributes the increase in clients largely to unemployment and people settling for jobs that don’t make ends meet, he said.
Adkins is appealing to the public for donations of food or, even better, money to buy food. “With our buying power we can stretch $5 into $10,” he said.
Don’t underestimate the importance of cleaning out your pantry and donating food, he said. If several people each brought one can of food, that could provide a meal for a family, he said.
Community Storehouse’s website describes its backpack program this way: “Food for Kids makes a difference in the lives of impoverished children by providing kids identified by teachers, counselors and school nurses with discrete backpacks, filled with nutritious, child-friendly foods to utilize on weekends and holidays when other resources — such as school breakfast and lunch programs — aren’t available. The program is designed to meet the needs of children who rely on these resources as their only, or only reliable, source of food.”
The backpack program served 743 children in Henry County and Martinsville last year, Adkins said.
For more information, call the Community Storehouse at 632-9002. It is at 4201 Greensboro Road and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Food distributions are done from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays, according to the storehouse website.
Becky McKinney, president of the board of directors of Grace Network, and Sharon Mills, site director of the Henry County Food Pantry, also said there typically is a summer slump in food donations, and contributions always are needed.
“It’s costing twice as much to provide a box of food compared to a few years ago,” Mills said. That is primarily because the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing less food, and the food pantry is having to buy more.
For more information, call Grace Network at 638-8500 or the Henry County Food Pantry at 629-1369. Grace Network, 433 E Commonwealth Blvd., is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. According to its website, Grace Network distributed “over 56,688 items of food” from January through December 2010 (the most recent figures listed).
The Henry County Food Pantry distributes food on the third Wednesday of each month from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the old Bassett Middle School (EMI Imaging), 3289 Riverside Drive. No one can go on the property before 8 a.m., Mills said.
This year the food pantry has distributed food to more than 350 families (about 1,000 individuals) per month on average, she said.