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Food bank donations are down, but demand is up

July 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local food banks providing meals to the needy are in crisis. Demand is way up but donations are not.

With donations flat and the need going up, more and more shelves are being emptied out at Southern California food banks. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank supplies some 600 agencies in Los Angeles County with food to feed around 330,000 people monthly.

According to Michael Flood, the Food Bank's executive director, that's more than a 70-percent increase from three years ago. This year, he says, the demand for assistance is far exceeding what's coming in.

"When you look at it over the course of the year it's about 17 percent of the population that are struggling with hunger, making decisions between food and rent, food and prescription medications," said Flood.

While food donations continue to come in, it's the demand that is really putting a strain on how many families local pantries can feed.

Francisco Torrero picks up food weekly for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. The church's food bank has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families asking for help.

"We were about 250, 275. When the recession came in we jumped to 370, 380. Now we are at 475," said Torrero.

At the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, director Joe Schoeningh says donations in the summer are usually flat. While no donation is too small, he says a few dollars can provide several meals.

"We could get 30 meals out of $10," said Schoeningh. "We can stretch a dollar real thin."

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