Nearly 20 percent of Georgians don’t know where their next meal is coming from, according to Feeding America. And while demand is increasing at food banks across the state, this is the time of year when donations drop. Now Facebook users can help.
Feeding America is joining with the Walmart Foundation and several major food companies in a program called “Fighting Hunger Together.” Throughout April, Facebook users can cast one vote per day for their local food bank or food pantry. The top 100 will get grants of 45 thousand or 25 thousand dollars. The grants come from a total donation of 3 million dollars.
John Becker with the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia says more than 28 percent of Georgia’s children may go hungry as schools let out for summer and lunch programs end. Many families depend on those programs to help feed their children and will turn to food banks to fill the gap. But donations to food banks typically go down in the spring.
He says “We have children that are not eating on the weekend. We want to take this grant and help expand our childhood hunger program.”
Becker says they have seen the number of families seeking help more than double. The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia serves 14 counties.
He says one reason is increasing fuel and food prices. He says northeast Georgia has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs and those workers have not recovered.
Becker says “The men in those manufacturing plants went into construction. They haven’t pretty much had jobs in years now. And so with fuel prices up above 3 bucks a gallon for the last two years, people are tapped out.”
He says in rural areas, you have to drive to get anywhere, so higher fuel prices hurt even more.
Derek Dugan with the Golden Harvest Food Bank in Augusta says they also are seeing record demand.
“We’re on track to do 16 million pounds of food distributed, when our previous high was 14 million the last two years.” he says.
The Golden Harvest Food Bank serves 30 counties. Dugan says even though the economy is improving, many people still haven’t recovered from the recession.
He says “People don’t immediately know the availability of food until it’s almost too late. And so they get into patterns later in the hunger cycle. And that’s where we are now. They have reached the point that savings is exhausted. And they are now looking for alternatives to feed their families.”