With the price of gasoline and other everyday items rising, some food banks in the area have already seen an increase in requests for help, while others are bracing for the inevitable.
Corner Cupboard executive director Candice Tustin Webster didn’t see a jump in numbers, but she’s anticipating it.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s why there are services like ours — to help people,” she says.
The Waynesburg-based organization feeds about 2,000 people a month through a network of 11 food pantries across the county. Webster said she always tries to be ready for more food.
To that end, Corner Cupboard maintains relationships with local and out-of-county food retailers, including one in Washington County that provides up to 8-10 pallets of food each week.
“We’re happy for that,” Webster said. “It allows us to offer a lot more fresh produce and bring in a lot more donated produce, so we spend less on food.”
The organization’s 12ft box truck can’t hold the amount of food donated, so Webster said it launched a fundraising campaign several months ago, hoping to raise $180,000 to buy a refrigerated truck 26 feet. They are currently a bit halfway to that goal, she said.
Fayette County Community Action Agency food bank director David Bork also hasn’t seen a major increase in numbers, but he expects requests for assistance to rise. .
“I’m sure (they) will in the near future; it takes a little time to reach us. I have a feeling this is going to affect everyone,” Bork said.
It usually takes a month after a major event – whether it’s rising gas prices or the pandemic – for people to see a strain on their resources and contact the food bank for help. help, he said.
Bork said they serve between 1,600 and 1,800 households per month and have prepared for increased needs by having a fully stocked warehouse and continuing weekly food shipments.
Since the FCCAA has 60 food pantries across the county, Bork said they’re able to direct customers to the food pantry closest to them so they don’t have to drive. away and exacerbate financial hardship by using extra gas.
“They don’t have to walk long distances to get food,” he said.
The Greater Washington County Food Bank, a division of Food Helpers, has already seen an 18% increase in distributions for its community outreach program compared to last month. GWCFB also saw a 45% increase in attendance at its Fredericktown distribution on March 2, from 93 households to 134 households.
“When food and gasoline prices go up, food insecurity will increase,” said Justin McAtee, chief marketing officer for GWCFB.
The people most likely to need help due to a price hike are part of the “invisible population,” McAtee said — those who were already on the verge of needing help.
“As prices started to rise in February, we supported almost 700 households, or about 2,800 people,” he said.
By the end of March, he expects the GWCFB to support 825 households, and they plan to do more.
“We order months in advance rather than a month at a time, we have a warehouse ready to go, we have hundreds and hundreds (of items) of ready-to-eat pre-packaged foods ready to go. leave when needed,” he said.
Representatives from all food banks and pantries said donations are always appreciated. They can be reached at:
n FCCAA: www.fccaa.org/donate or by sending a check to Fayette County Community Action Agency, 108 North Beeson Boulevard, Uniontown, Pennsylvania 15401;