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Hungry line up at food pantries in Yuba-Sutter
The Salvation Army: Donations of canned goods and other nonperishable items accepted from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 1p.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 401 Del Norte Ave. Money donations to purchase food also accepted.
St. Isidore's Food Locker accepts donations from 9 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays in the portable behind the church on Clark Avenue.
St. John's Episcopal Church accepts donations of non-perishable food and homegrown vegetables, toiletries, toilet paper and socks from 9 a.m.-noon Monday through Friday at 800 D Street in Marysville. St. Joseph's Catholic Church can be contacted about donations at 742-6461.
Mother Hubbard's Cupboard has a specific list of what it needs for donations, so residents should call 673-7353 before donating.
The Gleaners accepts money, food and other items from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday at 760 Stafford Way in Yuba City.
The Christian Assistance Network can be contacted about donations at 671-7344.
Students home for the summer combined with a stagnant economy are proving to be a brutal combination for area food pantries.
Record numbers of residents are turning out for daily, weekly and other regular food giveaways, and as donations continue to be sparse, some Yuba-Sutter food closets struggle to keep up or barely scrape by.
Nearly 600 people have come to the Salvation Army this month asking for a bag of food — up from its usual 300 to 400, said Social Services Director Lanay Gouailhardou. With children out of school and many not eating at summer meal programs, some families with as many as eight mouths to feed walk away with several bags filled with canned vegetables, beans and rice.
The pantry is using up the last of goods donated or purchased at Christmas, and the shelves are beginning to go bare. Demand continues, and without new food, she is not sure what she'll do.
"This is what we have for the rest of the year," Gouailhardou said.
Picking up a bag filled with oatmeal, soup and other staples Thursday, Joseph Veal, 22, said food pantries are critical for residents like himself.
"I've only had enough money to pay rent," he said. "This is going to help me and my girlfriend not starve for a while."
Yuba City resident Brian Matthew Christian said pantries are critical for keeping him fed, after his unemployment benefits ended three months ago, and he cannot find work.
"I'm that close to being homeless," he said. "And I'm not the only one. A lot of people go through this. But with the help of God and the Salvation Army, it makes things better."
The Salvation Army is just one of many food closets hungry residents depend on in Yuba-Sutter.
Each morning, the Gleaners put out stacks of bread, pastries and produce volunteers have gathered from area stores. Before the recession hit, about 40 hungry residents would turn up for the morning giveaways, but these days, the number can top 200, said President David Olson.
The Gleaners also feed 3,500 people a month through food giveaways at 17 sites and provides food to charities. One giveaway the other day had 70 new sign-ups.
"We are getting more all the time," Olson said. "It's slowed up the donations since the economy has been so bad. We accept any donations we can get."
St. John's Episcopal Church in Marysville saw a 64 percent increase in the number of meals it provided in the first quarter of this year compared to last, at 3,411 meals, said outreach coordinator Susan Kimmel. Donations from the post office and United Way have been a saving grace, as have a Community Development Block Grant and grant from the Episcopal Community Services Diocese, but it needs more volunteers to be able to stay open all month.
"I can't think of more important or immediately useful work," she said.
A major challenge for food pantries is the absence of federal aid, said Larry Garvin, head coordinator of the Christian Assistance Network. Last year, his agency received a fourth of what it normally receives from the Emergency Shelter and Food program, but this year it has not even heard if funding is available.
"Funding is down and requests are up," he said. "I think that's a universal problem but especially in light of the economy."
At Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, operated by St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Yuba City, volunteers handed out groceries for 800 meals in the last two days — quite a spike considering a typical month would be 4,200 meals, said coordinator Brenda Wong. Fortunately, farmers recently made a large donation of rice and beans, so the pantry is just able to maintain itself.
"We are maintaining, but we just went through a real hurting bit," Wong said.
Many people bike or walk to the pantry hoping for a bag of food. Earlier this week, a woman came with a little red wagon in tow to pick up food for her eight children.
"It just shows how much need there is in the community," Wong said. "A lot of these people have worked before, but the economy is bad, and things happen to people. To me, we are all one health crisis away from not being able to manage."
Critical to the success of the food pantries is collaboration, Wong said. When one has a surplus, it shares with others and refers citizens to other available resources.
"I think so many people in the community are concerned and especially for kids. They don't want to see people go hungry," Wong said. "We are all in this together."
CONTACT Ashley Gebb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4783. Find her on Facebook at /ADagebb or on Twitter at @ADagebb.