Friday, March 20, 2009

FoodShare Campaign Struggles

From Ellen Christmas, Second Harvest Program Manager

Sadly ,our annual efforts to raise pounds and dollars for the Grand Rapids Food Shelf lags far behind where we were last year at this time. In fact, our totals to date hover around $26,000, compared to about $41,000 collected by this time last year. We are not sure what all the factors are but the most obvious is the state of the economy. Donor fatigue and smaller gifts to charitable organizations likely play a part as well. The difficulty lies in that we know demand will continue to rise as we hear of more and more people being laid off from all levels of employment. Already we have seen many first time visits to the food shelf by families who not only ever thought they would need such a service, but in the past were donors themselves.

My request to each and every one of you is to keep the conversation going among your friends, and within your congregations, businesses and organizations about the need to support the safety net the food shelf provides to so many of our local people. Hunger hurts everyone in our community. We need to stand strong and keep working together to find the resources needed to continue feeding as many people as we can - many of them, children.
An interesting parallel to the March Campaign is the Hunger in America Study we are currently involved with. Trained volunteers have been traveling to many of our agencies to conduct face to face interviews with clients. Our goal is to achieve close to 300 surveys. Within the questions people are asked what they would do if the food pantry/shelf they currently use did not exist. Almost all surveyed indicate it would be a major problem for them and they would have nowhere else to turn for help.

So, in conclusion, if you can help or know anyone who has not given a donation, big or small, to the March Campaign, now is the time to ask…
We thank all of our wonderful friends and volunteers who not only support us with their financial gifts, but with their valuable time as well. You are such an important part of everything we do here at Second Harvest Food Bank.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Good News for a Change

Amid all the gloom and doom of the economic crisis, it’s important to remember that although the need is increasing, we are helping many people. Last year Second Harvest North Central Food Bank distributed more than 3.3 million pounds of food to directly to low income people and through 145 hunger relief agencies in this region.

Total number of people served by Second Harvest North Central Food Bank entire region in 2008:

· 40,621 household visits to food shelves
· 137,106 individuals served by food shelves including 52,302 children
· MAC & NAPS- 25,048 commodity boxes distributed to children and seniors
· Itasca Holiday Program- 1,700 families received Christmas food baskets
· Kids CafĂ© - 1,827 meals fed to children at after school program
· Kids Packs to Go – 12,221 backpack meal sacks distributed to elementary school children

In January of this year, we were able to acquire more donated food than any other non-holiday month in our history. This is great news, considering the increasing need we are experiencing due to the economic downturn. The food shelves, soup kitchens, shelters and other hunger relief agencies striving to help our neighbors are doing the best they can to provide emergency food assistance in these difficult times. Many people are stepping up to help. This is good news for a change.