Bay Area food banks still in need of donations


For Bay Area food pantries, the giving goes on even though the holidays are gone.

This first Monday after Christmas, the work continues at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek.

Ray Bishop gratefully accepts the help as he struggles to support a family of five on one Social Security check.

"It's a 24-7 experience; like I say, 'I'm trying to survive on one Social Security check, what do I do, save it up,'" Bishop said.

For many Bay Area food pantries, the challenge in the new year could be even greater than the last.

"The need has been up 30 percent from two years ago and almost at every distribution for the past year or so the need has been increasing, so we expect that to continue," Lisa Sherrill of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano said.

At the Salvation Army food pantry in Concord, they are cleaning up after a very busy holiday period, the culmination of a year in which demand for food doubled.

"As the unemployment rate doubled, we've seen the demand double, almost identical; the demand for our services has risen dramatically," Salvation Army Major Clayton Gardner said.

The key to meeting the demand going forward will be getting the community to keep on giving.

Retirees Joseph and Sherry Schmidt distribute food and other items to those in need through food banks and on their own.

"As soon as we see someone, we slow down and we just ask, 'Are you hungry?' Sherry Schmidt said. "We don't say, 'Oh you poor soul, here we're giving you,' we say, 'Are you hungry?' and we do it all year round."

As the Schmidts realize, hunger knows no holiday.

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