ROANOKE, Va. – Food banks are expecting to see more people using their services this year but there’s an issue ... many shelves are empty.
Feeding Southwest Virginia serves 26 counties across the state. CEO and President, Pamela Irvine, is worried about the limited food supply they have.
“There’s a lot of empty shelves. We had food on shelves and in the aisles last year. So we definitely have seen over an 8% decrease in food donations which is very troubling in a time we know we’re going to see an increase,” Irvine said.
One of the reasons so many shelves are empty is that the food bank is seeing fewer and fewer donations.
“National donors have decreased their donations across the country. Also, we know as well that retail and other food industries…the cost is hitting them as well … right, so they don’t have as much product to donate,” Irvine said.
Hunger Free America recently released a report discussing hunger across the nation. The report shows from Oct. 2021 to Oct. 2022, Virginia saw a 50% increase in the number of people without enough to eat.
Virginia as a whole has one of the lowest rates of food insecurity – 7.4% – in the United States. However, Feeding Southwest Virginia has some counties with 16% of people food insecure and some as much as 19%.
Some food banks aren’t seeing the empty shelves right now. Lynchburg Daily Bread serves an average of 300 meals a day and even with increased numbers during the holidays, they’re still stocked up.
“Now into the new year, we are still going strong. Our numbers are pretty much around that 300 area,” said Ansley Bean, Development Specialist at Lynchburg Daily Bread.
Emergency SNAP Benefits because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be going away in February unless they are extended.
“We’re going to see an increase in need. Definitely, people had, I wouldn’t say a lot of resources but additional resources during COVID, and that’s been 2 ½ years right … and it’s going away,” Irvine said.
Food banks like many other organizations are seeing the same equation, high demand in need but a limited amount of resources.
“We have a need. We’re heading into a food crisis. Not just for our country and our neighbors but for organizations like Feeding Southwest Virginia,” Irvine said.
Feeding Southwest Virginia and Lynchburg Daily Bread both take monetary donations and both are needing more canned fruits and vegetables.