Digging Deeper: Food Shortage in Southwest Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Food Shortage in Southwest Georgia

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With food prices rising and unemployment high, more people are turning to food assistance than ever before.

The Second Harvest of South Georgia food bank has seen demand increase 79-percent just this quarter.

 Now, they're heading into their busiest seasons with less food on their shelves.

 As fast as supplies arrive at the Second Harvest of South Georgia's warehouse they 'returned around and funneled back out the door. 

Demand is up going into what is typically their busiest time of the year.

"We're already distributing 79 percent more this quarter than last so there's no telling what an increase we're going to see in the holiday season," said Will Robinson, Chief Operation Manger of Second Harvest of South Georgia Food Bank.

Keeping the shelves full is tougher than ever. Just like consumers at the store, they're paying higher prices while trying to be a good steward of the money they receive.

"We try to spend a dollar, actually less than 90 cents per pound of food.  Because of increased food costs we have greatly reduced the number of products we can actually go out and buy," said Robinson.

It's nearly eliminated the ability to purchase protein in the form of meat.

"Frozen meats canned meats there's an increased cost there which all families use we can select from fewer items," said Robinson.

Substitutes that include peanut butter are also climbing in price with peanut prices at an all time high because of a smaller crop.  Thanks to ConAgra and Tara Foods they keep some supply.

"We have good supporters locally but we are running through their inventory that they have donated fairly quickly", said Robinson

Economists say the higher price could ultimately affect the have-not more.

"It can affect your health, your longevity, and you can develop malnutrition," said Amaechi Nwaokovo, Albany State Professor.

Which is why the food bank hopes its community supporters will rally around them especially this holiday season donating items like turkeys or hams that they simply know is not in their budget to buy. 

 Last year, Second Harvest of South Georgia handed out 14-million pounds of food. 

This year, they expect to provide more than that with donations topping a million pounds of food a month to those in need in from Albany to Douglas, Thomasville, and Valdosta.

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