Food banks struggling to keep shelves stocked

(KGO)
March 8, 2012 5:06:45 PM PST
Higher food and gas prices are making it tougher for food banks to feed the hungry.

One of the biggest in the country is the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose. Unlike many other food banks, Second Harvest does not charge to distribute its food because they can pass along the costs to pantries or soup kitchens. Their main concern is having enough food to fill their warehouse and distribute to the hungry.

Nick Lentaris goes to the pantry three times a week. It helps feed his family. Both he and his wife lost their jobs. He says there are more people there than ever. "I've seen more people in line. I've see it, one time, close. I can't remember, sometime last week," he said. Demand is rising, but so are food costs. It's getting harder to feed the hungry.

Kathy Jackson runs the Second Harvest Food Bank which serves the Peninsula and South Bay. "Some basic commodity prices have escalated rather dramatically over the last six months," she said. Rice is up 25 percent. Eggs are up 24 percent. Beans are 17 percent higher. The price of peanut butter is up a whopping 60 percent.

"Some lower-income families would find it hard to put something as basic as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into their kids' school lunches," Jackson said. Tuna was once a basic protein food for Second Harvest but now, it's too costly. Peanut butter and beans were substituted but they've become too expensive. The food bank is also being hurt by higher gas prices. "That impacts our ability to operate our fleet of 15 trucks up and down the Peninsula to deliver the food we need to deliver," Jackson said."

Bob Gregory picks up food for St. Justin's Church in Santa Clara. He too has noticed a dramatic increase in the number of people in their lines. "I think there's a lot of people who want to work, but they just don't have work to give them," he said.

From the San Jose warehouse, Second Harvest serves about 250,000 people every month, about 1 in 10 people in the South Bay and the Peninsula. They say they have seen a 50 percent increase in demand since the recession and they add that the demand also comes from people who have never had to rely on a food handout.

For information on donating food call 1-866-234-3663 or visit http://shfb.org.


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