Area food banks face crisis as donations drop sharply

Food donated for families facing tough times fills only a small part of the huge Second Harvest warehouse. Friday, they had less than 400,000 pounds of food available for the 450-member food banks. That's a sixty percent drop from the million pounds they consider the bare minimum, and they're worried.

"This is very frightening, Bill, because I mean, every time around this time of year the donations do go down, but I don't think I've ever seen it this low," said Second Harvest Warehouse Manager Mamie Jackson. "We need to get more donations in, and we also need volunteers."

Here's what the lack of food at Second Harvest means. The three freezers at the Community Center of St. Bernard are empty, and where there used to be four shelves in the food pantry, now only one remains, and it is nearly bare.

"I'm afraid for the upwards of 180 families we serve here in the parish," said center director Iray Nabatoff. "Our cupboards are bare. I mean we actually had to shut the pantry down the last week of September, the first week in October because we had nothing to disburse."

The Westwego Food Bank reports having to reduce the size of food boxes by twenty to thirty percent.

"If the pantry is shut down for a week because we have nothing to disburse, we've got hungry families," pointed out Nabatoff.

"Right now, during October, our warehouse is pretty empty, and these agencies shelves are pretty empty as well," added Second Harvest spokesman Jay Vise.

And the big worry is Thanksgiving is just a month away, the time when so many people need help to provide Thanksgiving dinner for their families. Here they need donations."

"Bill, it's very urgent. As we get closer to the holidays, the need becomes greater and greater, because we want everyone to have a seat at the table for Thanksgiving, into the holidays and Christmas," concluded Vise. You can reach Second Harvest at 734-1322, or their website at http://no-hunger.org.


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