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Higher demand and fewer federal dollars strain the regional food bank.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
As the story of Roanoker Jamie Robertson and her family in Monday’s newspaper illustrates, the distance from “getting by” to “being in need” can be as short as a single misfortune.
She, her husband and their three youngsters did not go hungry because the regional food bank was able to put food on their table till payday, which was weeks away. Feeding America Southwest Virginia is in the midst of a cash-flow problem of its own, though: Donations haven’t grown with demand, and federal reimbursement for the cost of handling government food commodities has shrunk.
The nonprofit warns that if it doesn’t raise $2 million by the end of the fiscal year in June — a $700,000 increase over last year — it will have to cut its services. And that would have a big impact across the 26-county region it serves in economically distressed Southwest Virginia.
The Salem-based food bank is on track to distribute 22 million pounds of food this fiscal year to food pantries, soup kitchens and needy individuals, including 3.5 million pounds thus far under The Emergency Food Assistance Program. TEFAP is free and comes with federal dollars to pay for storage and handling.
Last year, the food bank was reimbursed $472,000 for handling 2.5 million to 3 million pounds. This year, it already has distributed more food and received, thus far, $147,000 — pre-sequestration. When fiscal austerity hits and need rises, private donors can assure families living paycheck-to-paycheck that help will be there if they miss a payday.
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