Crisis impacts local food banks


The annual "Scouting for Food" drive has collected in a lot less this year than in the past in Contra Costa County.

"With the way the economy is, I think that's expected. We are serving 20 percent more people though," said Lisa Sherrill from the Food Bank of Contra Costa.

Sherrill says this year Boy Scouts in their area collected 152,000 pounds of food; their lowest total since 2003.

The Salvation Army reports their collection efforts are also down by 30 percent.

"It's scary to say the least because we do have about 100 families that we're helping for Thanksgiving, a little over 250 for Christmas, and it really puts a strain on us," said Frank Desplanke from the Salvation Army.

At the Contra Costa Food Bank, just about any donation is a welcome one -- with a few notable exceptions.

There is a "wall of shame" which holds a variety of donated items that had to be rejected. Those include products with expiration dates more than a year old, stained and rusty cans, crumpled containers and half-eaten jars of peanut butter.

Joan Tomasini educates potential donors about the do's and don'ts.

"The sort of foods we need are high protein, canned chicken, canned tuna, peanut butter, iron-enriched cereals such as Cheerios or Frosted Flakes," said Tomasini.

Jason Jue took time from his job at a bank, to help sort donated items.

"With the way the economy is going, this is another way to give gifts. Instead of monetary gifts, you can give of your time, of yourself," said Jue.

Of course the Food Bank and the Salvation Army both still gladly accept money.

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