Summer heats up families’ need for food as charitable donations slow

sgilman@newsobserver.comJune 19, 2014 

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    Where to donate:

    • Caliber Collision, a national automobile repair company, is holding a food drive to benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Give nonperishable food items, but no open or glass containers, perishable or homemade items. Donations can be made to all five of the locations in the Triangle until June 27: 1710 Piney Plains Rd., Cary. 919-388-9783; 1661 N.W. Maynard Rd., Cary 919-468-3031; 3010 N. Main St., Fuquay-Varina. 919-552-2081; 1319 Capital Blvd., Raleigh. 919-856-4650; 10112 Capital Blvd., Wake Forest. 919-556-6261.

    • Genesis United Methodist Church will hold a food drive to benefit Dorcas Ministries from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Walmart on 3560 Davis Dr. in Morrisville. Needed: canned food, cereal, jelly, condiments, canned vegetables, toilet paper and paper towels.

    • Urban Ministries of Wake County is holding Christmas in July food drive July 24-25. For more information, contact Carol Schwartz at 919-256-2179 or cschwartz@urbanmin.org. Customers at the Chick-fil-A locations listed below who bring three cans of food will receive a free regular or spicy chicken sandwich:

    2000 Cameron St., Raleigh. 919-821-1155.

    4621 Capital Blvd, Raleigh. 919-850-2175.

    4325 Glenwood Ave., Space U207a, Raleigh. 919-782-1911.

    4154 Main at North Hills St., Suite 114, Raleigh. 919-510-0100 (July 25 only).

    6612 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh. 919-571-8480.

    1815 Walnut St., Cary 919-233-1691.

    1803 N Harrison Ave. Cary. 919-678-1444.

    Falls Village, 6701 Falls of Neuse Rd. 919-845-4556

    5959 Triangle Town Blvd., space Fc1104, Raleigh. 919-792-2214.

    NOTE: The Chick-fil-A offer is only good during these dates in July.

— For many people, summer means fresh fruit, outdoor barbecues and trips to the beach.

But for cash-strapped parents, it means more mouths to feed; for food banks, it can mean running short on supplies.

Parents who rely on free and reduced-price school lunch programs to help keep their children fed often turn to food pantries and other sources during the summer. The pantries, in turn, can have difficulty keeping up with the demand.

“We get the bulk of our donations around the holiday time, and our food demand is higher over the summer,” said Jill Straight, outreach administrator of Dorcas Ministries, a Christian nonprofit in Cary. “Too often in the summer we struggle with meeting the food demand in the community.”

Dorcas Ministries runs a thrift shop and food pantry, and while its goal is to get needy people back on their feet, the organization provides emergency services, such as food. Eligible clients can come every few months and stock up on about two weeks’ worth of food, averaging about $250 to $300 a load.

Those two weeks of food can mean everything for parents like Marie Goodman of Cary, who counted on school programs to provide breakfast and lunch for her children, ages 13, 11 and 5. Goodman is about to graduate from ITT Technical Institute with a degree in science and criminology and hopes to land a job as a probation officer. In the meantime, the family struggles; a couple weeks ago she had “absolutely nothing,” and a container of pennies came to the rescue.

“We went and cashed it in and got like $17 and got something to eat with that,” she said.

But when Goodman opened her refrigerator on a recent afternoon, she saw vegetables, fruit and some egg salad. “Most of it’s from Dorcas,” she said.

While the demand on food pantries is higher in the summer months, food drives are scarce. Straight says almost no food drives occur in August.

And already, shelves are running low.

“There’s not a lot of variety left. We’re pretty much at the end of our mixed vegetables,” she said, gesturing to rows of cans from Walmart and Food Lion. “That’s going to be gone in about a month.”

With feeding 140 families a month, two weeks’ worth of groceries at a time, even 160 boxes of Saltines crackers can disappear in a fortnight.

Jean McCullough, a member of Genesis United Methodist Church, organizes the church’s food drives, timed to help the summer food shortage. It has one coming up Saturday at the Walmart in Morrisville.

“As we start transitioning to summer, people are preoccupied with graduations,” McCullough said. “People are getting more busy. And the kids are not in school anymore, so the ones that need that meal during the day aren’t getting it.”

Their last food drive brought in 680 pounds of food and $45 in cash.

Gilman: 919-829-8955

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