Food Banks Running Low

Cart for the Food BankLocal food banks are in a bad way, Scott Shenk writes in today’s Daily Progress, facing strong increases in demand with corresponding increases in donations. Both the Emergency Food Bank and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank report increases of 200-300% over this time last year, forcing them to cut off supplies to needy families. Things are toughest in the summer, since kids don’t have access to the daily subsidized breakfasts and lunches that they do during the school year. The need, of course, is for more people to donate food.

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, which covers about a third of Virginia, gets a lot of their food from grocery stores, while the church-run Emergency Food Bank relies heavily on individual donations and canned food drives. I called and asked a few months ago, and the BRAFB isn’t really keen on people just showing up with food, but you can contribute at area grocery stores. [Update: The BRAFB says you’re welcome to bring food to them, too, despite what they told me.] I’m partial to the Emergency Food Bank, who is thrilled to have people arrange to come by with a sack or two of canned soups, boxes of cereal, tins of tuna, etc.—e-mail them to arrange a contribution, if you’re able to help.

16 Responses to “Food Banks Running Low”


  • There is a difference between running low on food and being out of food. The food bank should not be as well stocked as the local grocery store, if it were everybody would go their for FREE food. I don’t see or hear of anyone starving in this area or for that matter the rest of Virginia. Could the food bank be wolfing us, or perhaps doing a chicken little number on the general population, or just looking for some good public relations?

  • awesome post waldo!

  • oh, that is a keeper. “Everyone in this room is dumber for having listened to you…may God have mercy on your soul.”

  • Hey, welcome to america’s favorite city where the poverty rate is 30% and you have people living in million dollar homes working at a coffee shop. Maybe I’m missing something here…..JC

  • P.S. 52% off all children in the Charlottesville School System qualify for government assistance.

  • Wouldn’t it be more efficient to donate money rather than buying canned goods and donating them at the store? I’d imagine the food bank can get wholesale or at least discounted prices, so the dollar you give them would buy more food than the dollar you spend at Kroger for food to donate. Or am I missing something?

    And yes, it’s atrocious that there should be so many in need in this area with the number of gazillionaires living here – especially given how many of the latter are limousine liberals who are only too happy to “donate” other people’s money.

  • Dear Waldo,

    I greatly appreciate you bringing the issue of hunger and the growing demand for food to the forefront. However, there is a grossly incorrect statement in your blog:

    “The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, which covers about a third of Virginia, gets a lot of their food from grocery stores, while the church-run Emergency Food Bank relies heavily on individual donations and canned food drives. I called and asked a few months ago, and the BRAFB isn’t really keen on people just showing up with food, but you can contribute at area grocery stores.”

    I don’t know who gave you the info that we are not keen on people just showing up with food, but that is completely incorrect. In fact, that’s how we receive many donations and we encourage that. We are a grassroots organization that has been able to help feed the hungry largely because of people who just do a food drive and drop off their donations. True, we do receive donations from grocery stores and through the national organization, America’s Second Harvest, but we are able to survive because of caring individuals who just want to do something to help. For that, we are eternally grateful. Please feel free to check out our website: http://www.brafb.org to learn more.

    Thank you.

  • And yes, it’s atrocious that there should be so many in need in this area with the number of gazillionaires living here – especially given how many of the latter are limousine liberals who are only too happy to “donate” other people’s money.

    Bruce, can you provide examples of these stingy, wealthy “limousine liberals” that you’re referring to? I ask because, although I don’t travel in those circles, my limited experience tells me that people in this community, rich and poor, are very generous with their money. Churches, hospitals, social service organizations, cultural programs and educational programs in Charlottesville benefit greatly from voluntary contributions. I don’t know that donors are expected to identify their political leanings when they give. Is your experience different?

  • Harry,

    My statement is based on simple and, I think, incontrovertible facts about this area: enormous and disproportionate wealth in a few hands, extremely liberal politics for the state with a number of wealthy and prominent left-leaning partisans, and yet still a distressing amount of poverty and hunger. I don’t think you can seriously question any of those assertions.

    Yes, some of those wealthy folks give away a lot of money, and if the people in your immediate circle are generous, more power to them. But setting up cultural studies centers and art museums while your neighbors are starving strikes me as a serious case of misplaced priorities, not to mention a hard heart – all the more if you then have the chutzpah to turn around and ask that your middle-class neighbors pay more in taxes to fund social programs!

    (If you insist on naming names, what small percentage of, say, John Kluge’s stupendous fortune would it take to feed every hungry person within thirty miles of City Hall for a decade? I don’t know the figure, but I’d bet dollars to donuts it would be lower than the marginal income tax rate increase I’ll see on my paycheck if Obama wins the election. Granted I have no idea what Kluge’s political leanings are.)

  • John Kluge doesn’t live in Albemarle anymore. He resides in New York City and Palm Beach. His politics seem to be a mixed lot. He’s given money to Bob Dole (R), James Inhofe (R), Chris Dodd (D), John Breaux (D) and Joe Lieberman (?). Surely, not the footprints of a liberal. More likely, he supports those politicians who are in a position to help his business interests. That said, Mr. Kluge has been most generous to the Charlottesville – Albermarle community, most notably with the donation of his Morven farms, valued at some $45,000,000, to the University of Virginia.

    I’m afraid that I’m just not buying the argument that donations to any cause, other than poverty and hunger, means that the giver is “hard-hearted”. Donations to public universities can provide opportunities for poor people to become educated and earn a decent living to improve their own lot. They allow teachers to be trained, who will teach children to read. They fund medical research and the education of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, who will save lives. Providing opportunities for young people to learn about art, music, theatre and dance opens new worlds and enriches all of our lives.

    Charitable giving doesn’t have to be an either/or transaction. To criticize individuals because their personal generosity doesn’t solve some particular problem in its entirety strikes me as mean-spiritedness. I’m very grateful for the generosity of members of our community, regardless of their level of wealth or political leanings.

    As for income tax increases to be expected in an Obama administration, you must be quite well off, if you expect to be included in that group. I think those increases are to be directed towards those earning upwards of $200,000 to $250,000 annually. Not in Mr. Kluge’s league, for sure, but enough that I hope you’re doing your part to contribute financially to helping the poor and the hungry.

  • I don’t know who gave you the info that we are not keen on people just showing up with food, but that is completely incorrect. In fact, that’s how we receive many donations and we encourage that.

    Well, that’s great, Ruth—I’m glad to hear that. I got that information by telephoning your office here in Charlottesville and offering to purchase a quantity of food to donate. The person that I talked to (and this was in December, so I’m afraid I can’t recall any details about to whom I spoke) was more than a little impatient, and told me that they don’t just want people to bring by food, but that I could give money or that I could give food in stores. I didn’t want to do that, so I contacted the Emergency Food Bank, who was substantially more receptive to me offer.

    No doubt money can be more useful than food, as Bruce points out, but I enjoy the satisfaction of going shopping for people, finding deals and picking out quality products that people may not otherwise have access to.

    Anyhow, I’ve updated this blog entry to reflect that. Ruth, perhaps you could take this opportunity to tell people the location and hours during which you’d like to receive donations? Your website lists many ways to help, but not a one of those is “bring us some food”; the “Donate” section refers only to money. So this might be a chance to provide some information for people to act on.

    Bruce, I’m strongly inclined to agree with Harry here, though that’s substantially because you’re employing one of my least-favorite logical fallacies: How can you X when there’s so much Y in the world? For instance, why help the merely hungry in Charlottesville when there are people in sub-Saharan Africa who are starving to death? Why help people in sub-Saharan Africa who are starving to death when there are Georgians who are being killed by Russian troops right now? Etc. It’s just not a meaningful or useful argument.

  • Let’s see we have the BRAFB, Emergency Food Bank, numerous churches and civic organizations helping feed the hungry and we still have hungry people in our area. Something is wrong here. Could it be that these organizations are more concerned with their own survival than helping the hungry? Just another large bureaucracy? Could we get a list of those organizations in the area other than those I have listed who are suppose to be helping the hungry?

  • http://www.brafb.org/index.cfm?action=b14&id=6946,11901

    Please check out the web link above. It will tell you exactly who to contact to donate food to the Thomas Jefferson Area Branch.

    Also,please see the following link from our website:
    http://www.brafb.org/index.cfm?action=b14&id=6946,11870

    This link tells you all about the foods we need.

    I’m very sorry that you were told that information and that you had what sounds like a negative experience when you called to find out how you could help. We’ll do our best to get to the bottom of this.
    I commend you for having such a desire to help the needy in C’ville and I appreciate your willingness to write a blog about how to help. The important thing is that people are willing to help through whatever organization or avenue. That’s the most essential thing. It’s all about the people in need, not us.

    Thanks so much!

  • The Emergency Food Bank is an all volunteer local organization with space donated by local churches. The EFB has long served emergency food needs in this area because of the generous support of individuals,many community groups and religious communities. Waldo, thank you for your kind words about the EFB.

    The EFB, soup kitchens, community gardens, local gleaning efforts, etc. have done their best to meet the needs of the poor for many years. The problem recently is that as the price of basic necessities has risen, salaries and food aid, such as food stamps, have stayed stagnant. It used to be that many of the people served by local organizations were insecure about food at the end of the month, had a health crisis, or other family crisis. Those situations still exist but now also involve many people who never needed assistance previously. The safety net has too many holes to be easily patched by a network of generous locals- here and across the country. All of us need to do what we can and not waste time/energy telling the very wealthy how to spend their money.

  • Gleaning, good word, have not heard that for a long time. It is my understanding that it is now against the law to glean from the local orchards, i.e. peaches, apples, etc. etc., which have fallen from the trees. What a waste to not be able to use these fruits to feed someone. Something about not being healthy..If anyone knows more please inform.
    Ruth, Gail I like to eat lunch out occassionally. Can you tell me where I might find a list of local soup kitchens or perhaps you can list on this blog. Thanks.

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