Food bank gears up for holidays

Published 12:05 am Sunday, November 14, 2010

With winter’s rage and the holiday season closing in, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia is making a plea for donations.

“We always need food, and we always need money,” said Karen Joyner, chief financial officer for the organization.

The food bank collects food and money to buy food, which are then distributed through hundreds of partner agencies throughout the region. Many of the partner agencies are churches, but they also include homeless shelters, veterans’ organizations and senior facilities.

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According to Joyner, the food bank is most in need of food around the beginning of September but it needs to take in around a million pounds of it per month to make ends meet for the hungry in the community.

“People go on vacation and don’t do food drives,” Joyner said of the bare summer months. During the quarter of the year that includes the holiday season, the food bank takes in about 50 percent of its yearly donations.

With the continuing fallout from the prolonged recession, more and more people need the assistance of the food bank, Joyner said. She doesn’t expect the number to go down soon.

“We expect our need will continue to grow,” she said. “A lot of people who used to be our donors are now people who need our help.”

Area residents can help their neighbors in need by donating food or money to the food bank. Money has a greater impact, because the food bank can leverage its buying power and membership in a national network of food banks to buy food for cheaper than it can be purchased at supermarkets.

“We can supply about $6 worth of groceries for every dollar,” Joyner said. Food purchased in bulk often is used for the larger partner agencies.

However, food drives also are a good way to give to the food bank. Smaller partner agencies often get the food that comes from food drives, because they come to the food bank and pick out what they need in a grocery store-style setting.

The food bank’s top 10 “most wanted” list includes canned vegetables, canned meats, pasta and pasta sauce, peanut butter and more. For more information on how to help, visit