Out of My Mind 20

Don’t forget the food banks this holiday season

The local food banks are always in need of donations andperhaps this time of year is the most important as families prepare for theholiday season this winter.

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculturefood banks across the state are managing additional demand for services as morefamilies seek assistance during the worst economic downturn in 70 years. Jobgrowth remains stubbornly slow in many areas and local nutrition programs are alifeline that helps put food on the table, according to the agency.

A recent release from the WSDA states, “Nutrition programshave experienced dramatic growth in demand since the beginning of therecession. The Food Assistance Programs operated by the Washington StateDepartment of Agriculture have experienced a 27-percent increase in demand thepast two years. WSDA helped local and tribal agencies serve approximately 1.7million clients in the past year, up from 1.3 million during the same period in2008.”

The state agency says that nearly two out of every fivepeople seeking help from state food assistance programs are under the age of 18or over 55.

To help cope with demand the WSDA is encouraging growers tocontinue to contribute to the programs.

“The agriculture community continues to be very generous inits support to food programs,” said WSDA Director Dan Newhouse. “As ourfamilies gather during the holiday season, we must remember our neighbors -especially the children and seniors – who worry about where they’ll find theirnext meal.”
Newhouse has been meeting with grower groups this fall to thank them for the millionsof pounds of Washington-grown foods donated to food banks. Farmers donate cropsand participate in volunteer gleaning programs that help harvest food in thefields and orchards to benefit nutrition programs. Food processors and packersalso donate truckloads of frozen and packaged foods to local, statewide andnational distribution programs.
Growers or processors interested in donating food should call their local foodbank or contact WSDA at foodassistance@agr.wa.gov or (253) 593-2035.
According to the WSDA, one in seven Washington families is experiencing hungeras the global economic downturn drags on. The most recent USDA Household FoodSecurity report (http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity/) shows that14 percent of households in Washington were unsure of how they will put enoughfood on the table, compared to 10 percent just three years ago.
It is going to take more than just the generous help of those that grow ourfood, we personally need to make an effort to remember our neighbors as well -it’s not just a case of people who don’t want to work, although they willalways be a part of society – in today’s economy there are more and more peoplewho want to work but just can’t find jobs.

When we see a food drive going on at one of our localgrocery stores like Princes Foods, Al’s IGA, Frontier Foods or Grants Market,if we can afford it we should pick up an item or two to add to the food box. AtFrontier Foods you can also purchase a voucher – these will be distributed atthe Oroville Food Bank and can be redeemed for a pound of ground beef. No oneis asking you to go short or take from your family, but if you can afford alittle extra this time of year it will make you feel good to know you arehelping someone and isn’t that more in line with the true meaning ofChristmas?