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Second Harvest plans for tough times

Second Harvest is preparing for a challenging 2009, said executive director Jason Clark. The food distribution organization seeks to be ready for potentially tough economic times.

According to a Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development statewide food bank report, a record 27.6 percent of clients were new in the most recent quarter.

In Spokane County, Second Harvest’s 2008 Client Survey revealed that one in five food bank clients was visiting a food bank for the first time. The nearly 650 clients interviewed for the 22nd annual survey in August helped paint a picture of local hunger:

•  40 percent of emergency food clients are children 18 years old or younger,

•   12 percent of clients are seniors age 55 or older.

• 95 percent of client households earn less than half of Spokane County’s median family income.

•  79 percent of client households report income below the federal poverty level.

•   38 percent of households have at least one adult working full or part time.

• Single parents head 25 percent of all households. Of those, 87 percent are single mothers.

•   66 percent of parents go without food so their children can eat. Of those, 32 percent say this happens daily or weekly.

• 60 percent of people in households without children say they skip meals when they run low on food, and 62 percent of those say this happens daily or weekly.

• 14 percent of the households rank high grocery prices as the main thing that made it difficult to put meals on the table.

• Another 11 percent ranked gas prices as the main barrier.

 “We anticipate food bank lines will be longer before they are shorter,” Jason said. “It’s important that Second Harvest has the ability to transport donated food where it’s needed most. We are asking the community to help us be prepared.”

Community food drives will be more important than ever, he said, adding that its website lists nonperishable food items needed and has food drive sign up forms.  Money also helps.

“Generous folks from the food industry donate truckloads of food,” he said.  “The cost of transporting, handling and distributing the donated food is Second Harvest’s responsibility. Each dollar helps us provide more than six pounds of food.”

Jason said Second Harvest needs volunteers for the warehouse, events and food drives.
November drives include:

“Scouting for Food” Saturday morning, Nov. 8, local Boy Scouts will collect nonperishable food from neighbors.

Tom’s Turkey Drive, Nov. 21 and 22 at Spokane County Rosauers stores, sells $15 Thanksgiving dinner bags. The dinners will be distributed Nov. 25 at the Salvation Army, 222 E. Indiana.

The annual Turkey Trot begins at 9 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 27, by the duck pond at Manito Park. Participants bring donations.

For information, call 534-6678 or visit 2-harvest.org.