Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Food banks in need
Donations off, demand up
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Because of an increase in people seeking food, the Community Storehouse will have to reduce the amount of food it distributes to families by 15 to 20 percent unless donations increase.
That is according to Travis Adkins, executive director of Community Storehouse.
“Last week, we served 100 more families than the previous week,” he said.
Though there has been an increase in donations from local organizations recently, it has not been enough to offset the increase in families requesting food, he said. There normally is an increase in requests for food this time of year, he added.
Last month, Community Storehouse provided food for 967 families through its food pantry. And there are more than 700 children in Community Storehouse’s backpack program, for which additional sponsors have been needed for several months, Adkins said.
That program provides needy children with backpacks filled with nutritious, child-friendly foods on weekends and holidays when other resources — such as school breakfast and lunch programs — aren’t available, according to the Community Storehouse’s website.
Community Storehouse needs donations of perishable and nonperishable foods and, especially, money, which, because of Community Storehouse’s buying power, can multiply the amount of food that can be purchased, Adkins said.
The food pantry and backpack programs also are supported in part by the organization’s thrift store.
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
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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.
The Henry County Food Pantry does not have enough food “right now,” Sharon Mills, site director for the pantry, said Tuesday night.
She said the food pantry has 300 boxes of food but anticipates 500 families at its monthly food distribution today. She said she is sending a truck to Feeding America’s food bank in Salem this morning to try and buy more food, but there is no guarantee.
“I’m struggling right now,” Mills said, noting that monetary donations are down this year compared with last year.
U.S. Department of Agriculture food commodities, which the food pantry receives at no charge, have declined from about 24 or 25 cans per household to about four or five cans per household over the last six or seven years, she said.
Mills said some grocery stores donate food (near expiration or damaged boxes/reclaimed) to the food pantry, and Hunters for the Hungry is a big supporter.
The food pantry must purchase everything else.
The food pantry serves about 400 families per month, except in November and December, when it usually serves 500 and 600 families per month, she said.
Mills encourages people to make monetary donations, which are tax deductible.
The food pantry distributes food on the third Wednesday of each month from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at EMI Imaging (the old Bassett Middle School), 3289 Riverside Drive. For more information, call 629-1369.
When asked about food supplies, Charles Tunnell, director of Victory International Ministries’ (VIM) food pantry in Fieldale, said, “We’ve been managing, but it’s tight. I don’t see as much available as there used to be.”
Normal hours of food distribution at that site are Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from about noon to 2 p.m. at the Fieldcrest Cannon office complex, which is the main distribution site, Tunnell said. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the distribution will be today instead of Thursday. A distribution still will be held Friday this week.
Victory International also does a food distribution at a satellite site at the former Ridgeway Elementary School. The normal schedule is Wednesdays from about 10:30 a.m. to about 1 p.m. Today, however, this site will not operate, and people are asked to come to the Fieldcrest Cannon office complex to receive food, Tunnell said.
On Tuesdays, the food pantry also distributes food to residents of Barrows Mill Road apartments, but that is not open to other people, Tunnell said.
He estimates the food pantry serves an average of 200 families a week (about 800 people) at the beginning of the month, when people have food stamps, and about 250 families (about 1,000 people) a week at the end of the month, when people run out of SNAP benefits.
The food pantry seeks donations of food or money. Food may be brought to the food pantry, of if pickup is needed, call 930-2375. To donate money, mail checks to P.O. Box 737, Fieldale, Va, Tunnell said.
Merle Prince, coordinator of Grace Network’s food pantry, said after a lean summer and fall, “we’re doing real well” on food supplies because of some large food drive donations from corporations recently. They include HanesBrands, Faneuil and Kimball Hospitality. She added that Monogram Food is doing a food drive, and Kings Grant recently did one.
“We always appreciate and can use help” from churches, civic groups and businesses, she said
Grace Network’s food pantry serves an average of 175-200 families a month.
She told of one woman who recently came to the pantry and said she planned not to have a Thanksgiving dinner. A few minutes later, four turkeys that had been donated anonymously were brought in, and the woman was able to get one. Prince said the woman told her, “Now I can have Thanksgiving. I just couldn’t afford to buy the fixings for Thanksgiving.”
“She was in tears because now she can put that Thanksgiving dinner on the table for her family,” Prince said.
Grace Network, 433 E Commonwealth Blvd., is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. For more information, call Grace Network at 638-8500 .
Prince said that from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, more than 89,000 food and hygiene items were distributed to Henry County and Martinsville residents by Grace Network’s food pantry.