Food Pantries Enjoy Feast
by Amy Gardner
Published: Dec 23, 2004
The News & Observer
Raleigh - Durham- Cary - Chapel Hill
Anthony Brooks of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina keeps inventory at the organization's Raleigh warehouse.
Full-size tractor-trailers beep loudly as they ease up to the loading dock with full cargos of sweet potatoes and bananas.
Food pantries and soup kitchens relish their busyness this time of year.
But they also worry, because hunger is not a seasonal problem.
"This is the giving season," said Mary Frances Goddard, co-chairwoman of the Fuquay-Varina Emergency Food Pantry, which donates groceries to 250-300 families each month and adds about 25 more families during the holidays.
The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina estimates that 375,000 people are at risk of hunger in its 34-county service area.
What's more, those who fight hunger say, the federal food stamps program doesn't always meet the needs of low-income families.
That's one reason why, on Tuesday, Sylvia Wiggins of the Helping Hand Mission showed up at Haywood's apartment with a brimming box of groceries -- including a frozen turkey for the holidays.
"I think I got you a ham out in the van, too," Wiggins said to Haywood, heading back out the door at the Walnut Terrace public-housing complex, just south of downtown Raleigh.
In October, grocery-store-sponsored food drives at the State Fair draw in thousands of pounds of nonperishable goods.
Some even worry that the publicity of holiday-time food drives gives the public a false sense that hunger is not the year-round problem that it is.
"We have established a great network of food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens and so on," said Shirley Williams-McClain, who heads the North Carolina Hunger Network.
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