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Help needed to close a critical food gap
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April 30, 2024

Help needed to close a critical food gap

Help needed to close a critical food gap

[Photo above: The pantry shelves at the end of the day.]

 

For over 40 years, we have provided food for people in our community without ever turning anyone away who met our eligibility requirements.

For the first time in our history, we can no longer meet the need with our current resources.

We are giving out the most food in our history, caused by large-scale factors occurring across the country, some of which are felt even more acutely here. These include the large rise in housing costs, inflation in food prices, and the end of Covid-era supports. We have placed limits on how much food people can take, but we are still running out of food every week. The photo above was captured after our Wednesday morning pantry hours last week.

Over the past two years, we have seen constant and drastic increase in demand. Visits to our food pantry have nearly tripled in that time and are now distributing the equivalent of 100,000 meals each month. The impact of this increased demand has also been felt by our partners who historically have provided food to us for free or at reduced prices. In addition, changes in the food system have resulted in less food surplus. This means that we are distributing significantly more food while significantly less food is available to us for free. Just five years ago, we spent very little money on food — receiving enough from partners, rescues and community donations to cover most of our needs.

We now estimate that we would need to spend twice what we originally budgeted to spend on food to meet the ongoing need.

This critical gap exists despite meeting our fundraising budget last year. Our staff has worked hard to make up the difference as demand increased — secured new grants, found new food rescue partners, reached out to individuals and businesses to secure support. But it is no longer enough.

Referring people to other food pantries is not the answer, since they are all facing the same critical challenges we are. It is a very difficult and disturbing truth for all of us. There is not a quick fix. This is not a problem that we created and it’s not a problem we can address alone. We need to come together as a community to explore new ideas and solutions. We also need increased support right now to buy food and bridge this gap. 

Here’s what you can do TODAY:

  • Help us spread the word about what we are seeing – share our social media posts and invite others to make a donation of food or funds.
  • Increase your giving if you are able so we can continue to support our food and housing programs along with this dramatic increase in need, make a financial gift for the first time, or purchase food items from our Amazon wish list to send to the pantry.
  • Think about your connections. Could your business or church group do a food drive or invite one of our staff members to share information about the community food crisis?

While the situation is serious, it is not hopeless. We know our community has both the resources and generosity to address this gap. And we remain confident in our ability to effectively provide services. We believe that together, with our community’s support, we can make sure people don’t have to experience hunger.

Please reach out to Leslie Huber, our Strategic Engagement Director, leslie@wayforwardresources.org if you would like to talk more about how you can support us in meeting this challenge.