Volunteers call for help as food bank demand rises

Jane Tallon (in blue on right) Phillis Simmons (in red) stock food boxes at the Community Food Bank.

Volunteers hauling pallets of canned goods, piling dollies high with macaroni-and-cheese boxes and stacking peanut butter jars high as the arm can reach are seeing more demand than ever for the fruits of their labor.

And as demand increases, the pressure grows on the Community Food Bank, which distributes emergency food supplies, volunteers said.

Of late, “we’ve been getting 100 orders a day,” volunteer Jane Tallon said Monday while helping load boxes at the food bank, 486 Morning Glory Lane. “It doesn’t take that long” to empty the shelves.

The Community Food Bank is far from alone in seeing increased demand for its services.

At the Salvation Army, Maj. Alfred Parker said he is seeing more people coming for food and other help.

Generally, the Salvation Army sees four to six families a day, he said. Of late, that number has risen to
as many as 10 a day.

Food drives on behalf of the army in years past have carried its supplies into October, but this year the shelves went empty in July, he said.

That hasn’t prevented the army from trying to meet their needs, he said.

“We are the safety net for a lot of folks,” he said. “You can always call on the Army.”

“It seems to be getting busier and busier,” said Sister Karen Bland of Catholic Outreach, which has seen the ranks of people who line up for meals at the soup kitchen swell, as well as more calls for help from its food bank.

The Community Food Bank, which gets donated food from grocery stores, churches and individuals, usually sees 1,200 to 1,400 people a month. That number grew to 1,886 last month, said Jane Craig, program coordinator.

Recipients are limited to nine visits a year to the food bank.

Craig, however, might limit visits to two for the rest of the year, she said, because of the demand.

Craig uses grant money and contributions to purchase food at a discount, so people’s money can go further by donating it to the food bank rather than purchasing food directly and giving it to the bank to distribute, she said.

The Community Food Bank is open to all Mesa County residents.

Recipients must provide identification and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers so the volunteers can track their use of the bank.

One visit to the food bank can result in “nine meals for every member of the family, and for a good food manager, certainly more than that,” Craig said.


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