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Drive at a ‘Key Time’ for Food Banks and the Working Poor They Serve

FLYER: Virginia food banks say a food drive this week comes at a crucial time for them. Flyer courtesy of AARP Virginia.
FLYER: Virginia food banks say a food drive this week comes at a crucial time for them. Flyer courtesy of AARP Virginia.
September 8, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. - Feeding programs say a food drive this week is coming just in time to help with a serious seasonal need, much of it from the working poor. The AARP Virginia Statewide Community Food Drive runs through next Monday. There are 150 collection sites around the state, many in the front of grocery stores.

Leslie Van Horn, executive director with the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, says they were hoping an improving economy would reduce demand, but that hasn't happened. She says many of those they serve are families struggling to survive on low-paying jobs.

"The working poor. People who have either quit filing for unemployment or took a job just to have a job," Van Horn says. "We are seeing more and more of those people in our lines."

Van Horn says summer is a tough time for the 1,900 feeding programs they work with. She says a lot of kids are not getting meals at school, and many schools and colleges don't run food drives during the summer. Van Horn says for the last five years, the AARP Food Drive has helped fill that gap.

"Our food banks right at this moment are probably fairly empty," Van Horn says. "The good news is the holidays are not far away, but in the meantime, the need is great and this particular food drive just helps us."

Van Horn encourages people to set up their own drive or to give money. As for food donations, she says to stay away from glass jars, but pasta, cereal, canned soup and vegetables are welcome. She says they always appreciate inexpensive, high-protein foods.

"Tuna fish and peanut butter. And then also make a cash donation because the food bank can take that dollar and stretch it a lot further than you and I can," Van Horn says.

On average, 95 cents out of every donated dollar goes to feed people.

Virginia food banks and pantries provide emergency help to more than a million people a year. To find a donation site near you, got to createthegood.org/va or dial 2-1-1.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA