ALBANY, GA (WALB) – The need for food in South Georgia is growing. The Second Harvest Food Bank says requests for assistance are up 40% this year. And for the first time, the Food Bank won't be able to furnish any turkey or ham this Thanksgiving.
Cumulus Broadcasting is holding its sixth annual food drive for the Second Harvest Food Bank, and food bank officials say it is desperately needed. Charitable groups around Albany say they don't see any evidence the economy is recovering. If anything they say it's getting worse.
Johnnie Schenck picks up food at the Lord's Pantry. She is raising one grandchild, and one great grandchild, and her Social Security check doesn't cover her bills. "Every time you go into the food store, everything done gone up. So anytime you can come here and get something for nothing, it's a blessing," Schenck said.
Volunteers who run the Lord's Pantry say they see no improvement in South Georgia's economy. "11 new people yesterday. And I would say out of those 11 people half of them have been laid off, or can't feed their family on what they make," Lord's Pantry President Tom Wilburn said.
Times so hard that celebration meals like turkey for Thanksgiving cannot be afforded by the Second Harvest Food Bank, which supplies the food to agencies in 30 South Georgia counties.
"You know for years and years we've done that, and this is the first time it's not," Albany Branch Director Tony Hall said.
The Second Harvest Food Bank of South Georgia says the cheapest they can buy turkey is 99 cents a pound, and their state contract will not allow any purchase over 80 cents per pound. So the Food Bank will do what they can with cranberry sauce and stuffing, but it looks like many families will do without the turkey.
At the Lord's Pantry, they trust many churches and groups will furnish turkey and ham for Thanksgiving as possible, but they say it's hard enough to try to keep the hungry fed today.
Wilburn said when he arrived this morning, people were already waiting in line. "There were about 10 people lined up. And that was at 7:00 in the morning. We open the door at 7:30."
The Lord's Pantry will distribute 16,000 bags of groceries this year, but they say the need for people like Johnnie Schenck and her grandchildren continues to grow.
The Second Harvest Food Bank of South Georgia says they will distribute 14.5 million pounds of food by year end, like we said, 40% higher than ever before.
Nearly one in five Americans in a Gallup poll said they've had trouble over the past year putting food on their family's table. Participation in the federal food stamp program is at an all time high, with more than 38 million Americans, that's one in every eight, receiving food stamps.