Summer brings hunger

Published 7:40 pm Saturday, July 14, 2012

Most everyone knows what it’s like to feel hungry after not eating for a few hours.

But for nearly 25 percent of our neighbors, hunger is a painful reality that they deal with day after day. Whether it’s a single mom whose income just doesn’t cover all the basics, a couple who have been unemployed or an elderly man who struggles to provide for himself, there are more than 400,000 people in Hampton Roads that depend on the help of food banks and their partner organizations.

Unfortunately, food banks often find it difficult to make ends meet during the summer because of fewer donations and increased demand. Warm weather, the allure of approaching vacations and the lack of family-oriented holidays often keep the food bank far from people’s minds during the summer.

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In addition, children who receive free or reduced-price lunch during the school year don’t have access to that resource during the summer, creating a sad situation that taxes the budgets of struggling parents.

Government-run programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits help close some of the gap, but these safety nets have gaping holes of their own. Someone who makes slightly too much to qualify for food stamps, for example, might have other financial obligations that overburden their income and make paying for food difficult.

Fortunately, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia helps some of these struggling families stay healthy until they’re back on their feet. But it needs help from the community to make that happen.

Food drives and monetary donations are especially needed during the summer. Groups are encouraged to collect food and monetary donations. 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 www.foodbankonline.org.