RALEIGH — For 90,000 people living in poverty in Wake County, hunger enters their lives every week of the year. Donations to the food pantries that serve them, however, often do not.
“Everyone remembers Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter,” says Peter Morris, executive director of Urban Ministries of Wake County. “But the worst time of year is summer.”
That is why Urban Ministries, which runs the county’s second-largest food pantry, is encouraging groups to participate in its new 52-week food drive. The program asks businesses, churches and other organizations to sponsor a food drive one week out of the year.
The year-round donations will help Urban Ministries keep up with demand at a time when some emergency food suppliers have stopped or limited their services as a result of the weak economy.
Groups are invited to collect food and then visit the food pantry to help weigh and shelve their donations. Alternatively, they could donate money enough to provide a week’s worth of food. The drive aims to help volunteers build relationships with Urban Ministries and the clients who use their services.
The drive should ensure the pantry does not face a feast or famine situation, says Johnny Loper, managing partner at Womble Carlyle, the Raleigh law firm that became the first corporate sponsor.
Womble Carlyle volunteered for this week, and used a “PB and DB” theme for its food drive, collecting jars of peanut butter and bags of dried beans.
“They are not exotic, but they provide good nutrition and a long shelf life,” Loper said.
The Urban Ministries pantry relies on donations to feed more than 200 families each month, Morris said. That comes to about 45,000 pounds of food.
Hunger results not from poor planning or poor parenting, Morris said, “but the inability to stretch a paycheck during an economic recession.” Children, the elderly and those on a fixed incomes are the most susceptible.
“Hunger and poverty are real in our community,” he said.