Monday, November 14, 2011

Donate to Your Local Food Cupboard!

Did you know that the 2011 Census reported that one in six Americans live below the poverty line ($22,314 annual income for a family of four)? This is 15% of the US population and an increase of 18% from 2006. With the recession continuing, more of us are finding that the money doesn’t stretch as far at the end of the month for food.

Food cupboards are seeing a record number of new participants. While many people coming for food are unemployed or have disabilities, about 1/3 have earned incomes. And while poverty is more apparent in cities, the rates of hunger have increased more in the suburbs and rural area than urban areas.

Feeing America is a national network of 200 food banks in the United States. These food banks are able to take advantage in bulk buying, receive large donations from food companies and provide food for local sites. They often provide visibility and access for food drives, grocery store donations and advocacy that smaller sites cannot tackle. However, local sites may have to purchase the food that large food banks supply (at a much discounted rate) so direct donations are usually appreciated.

There are 10 regional food banks in Pennsylvania. Within each region, many food cupboards, pantries and soup kitchens operate out of churches, nonprofits and community sites. Money is available to these local sites through the federal Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) which is appropriated funding from the United State Department of Agriculture. Funding also comes through the State Food Purchasing Program (SFPP) which is a line item in the state budget. These are accessed through a “lead agency” in each county. Not all food cupboards belong to this network and so they would only distribute donated food.

As we approach the upcoming holiday season, there are an abundance of food drives providing bags of food for the hungry in our communities. Volunteers are also appreciated as many sites have no paid labor and many volunteers are seniors. To find your local food cupboard, look on your county website, ask at churches and nonprofits in low income communities. Monetary donations are also appreciated to purchase foods not donated such as meats and fresh vegetables.

I hope that you have enough food to feed your family this winter. If so, consider donating some food, time or money to a local food cupboard. Include your children and family when you purchase food or donate.To find resources in Delaware Co.

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