Food banks struggle during summer

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Slower donations and increased demand make summer a tough time for food banks and the families who depend on them.

“Historically, the summer months are slow for food banks around the country,” said Susan Mayo, chief marketing officer for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. “People are on vacation, children are out of school, so we don’t have the organized groups that are collecting for us during the year.”

Schools, civic leagues and similar organizations typically are the most prolific collectors of food, Mayo said. But schools are out during the summer, and many civic leagues and other groups also choose not to meet while the kids are out of school.

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That unfortunately coincides with increased demand at the food bank and its partner organizations, because children who are out of school do not have access to free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches.

“Hunger does not take a summer vacation,” Mayo said. “It is challenging for us to provide the variety of food our partners need.”

Mayo said campaigns spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce and military installations have helped this summer, but there still is plenty of demand to be met.

“We’re not seeing a decrease in demand,” she said. “We’re still serving one in four people in our community. People are still unemployed and underemployed. It is challenging for many families.”

Groups that would like to hold food drives are encouraged to do so over the summer, and the food bank can provide a tool kit to help groups get started. In addition, monetary donations are welcome — the food bank, with its purchasing power, can purchase about $6 worth of food for every dollar donated.

The items most needed by the food bank include peanut butter, tuna, canned ham, canned chicken, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, 100-percent fruit juice, instant potatoes, fruit preserves, dried fruit, cereal, oatmeal, rice, whole-grain crackers, pasta and pasta sauce, boxed meals, chunky soups, powdered baby formula, baby food, diapers and baby wipes.

All donations should be in non-breakable containers.

For more information on the food bank, to make a monetary donation, to find partner agencies that distribute food or to learn how to organize a food drive, visit