Category Archives: Hunger

Anti-hunger advocates launch year-long School Breakfast Challenge at Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference

Two-hundred-fifty anti-hunger advocates gathered at the Christiana Hilton yesterday for the second annual Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference. The highlight of the day-long event was the official launch of the School Breakfast Challenge.

Delaware Department of Education Secretary Mark Murphy officially launched the challenge, announcing that a total of $20,000 is available to schools that increase participation in the school breakfast program.

In the 2012-2013 school year, only 52.1 percent of children in Delaware who received free or reduced-price lunch also participated in school breakfast.

“We know for our children to be able to learn well, their minds need to be free from worrying about hunger pains. Ensuring our children receive nutritious meals is a vital component of their academic health,” Murphy said.

Cash prizes will be available in the following categories:


  • Highest overall participation percentage – cash prizes for first place ($4,000), second place ($2,000), third place ($1,000) and fourth place ($500).
  • Highest increase in participation – cash prizes for first place ($4,000), second place ($2,000), third place ($1,000), and fourth place ($500).
  • Implementation of an alternative breakfast program or adding breakfast where it was not offered before. Honorable mention


  • Highest overall participation percentage. There will be cash prizes for first place ($2,500).
  • Highest increase in participation percentage. There will be cash prizes for first place ($2,500).
  • Implementation of an alternative breakfast program or adding breakfast where it was not offered before. Honorable mention

Winners will be announced at next year’s Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference, and funding must be used to purchase equipment to improve the infrastructure of their nutrition programs.

Governor Jack Markell applauded the School Breakfast Challenge and emphasized the state’s commitment to ensuring the all Delawareans, especially children, have access to nutritious foods.

“While Delaware’s economy continues to improve, we know the recovery hasn’t reached all of our neighbors,” Markell said. “We will keep the safety net strong for individuals, families and, especially, children who are vulnerable to hunger. One critical area of our focus is our schools, recognizing that without consistent access to food, children’s physical, emotional and educational growth are in jeopardy. The School Breakfast Challenge is another important step to move us closer to a hunger-free Delaware.”

Administrator of the United State Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Services Audrey Rowe discussed USDA’s important role in alleviating hunger for millions of Americans.

“I want to commend the many school districts in Delaware who have brought breakfast into the classroom,” said Rowe. “We hear from teachers who say that when kids eat healthy foods they do better in school. When kids get lots of healthy food choices and exercise at school, they learn good habits for life.”

In addition to the launch of the school breakfast challenge, anti-hunger advocate Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, provided keynote remarks that focused on the country’s collective will, including government’s, to end hunger.

“Saying we can end poverty and hunger by removing funding is like saying we can get rid of drought by removing water,” said Berg.

Four panels throughout the day focused on community-based advocacy, federal nutrition policies, healthy food access and funding for anti-hunger programs.

“The biggest bang for a federal dollar is SNAP benefits,” said Ellen Teller, Director of Government Relations for the Food Research and Action Center. “However, the SNAP program is the bull’s-eye on Capitol Hill. Anti-hunger advocates must be agile and play defense again the attacks.”

Panelists informed attendees that both national and local advocacy efforts are an important part of the political process as it relates to programs for low-income households.”

“When the stimulus funding ended last November, that meant an annual $16 million reduction in SNAP benefits, which is more than the entire annual budget of the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Secretary Rita Landgraf of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, which administers the SNAP program in the state. “Food is paramount to keeping people safe and healthy in their communities. That’s why we are committed to working with Gov. Jack Markell, our congressional delegation, state legislators and federal officials to find long-term solutions to meeting the basic food needs of vulnerable Delawareans.”

“Today was truly inspiring,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “To have so many individuals from all sectors show their support for a community free of hunger was humbling. We know that we have what it takes to end hunger in our state. Now we just need the political will to make it happen. Hunger is unacceptable in this country.”

To learn more about the School Breakfast Challenge or to sponsor it, please contact Dan Reyes, Coalition to End Hunger Coordinator at the Food Bank of Delaware, at (302) 292-1305 ext 206 or

Check out some photos from the day!


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Registration open for Ending Hunger conference on April 7

Registration is now open for the second annual Ending Hunger Through Citizen Service conference scheduled for Monday, April 7 at the Christiana Hilton.

The all-day conference, sponsored in part by TD Bank and the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, will focus on collaborative efforts to increase access to foods, educate families about available programs and using the state’s collective skills, resources and political will to end hunger. The conference will feature speakers from both state and federal government agencies, education, nonprofit, agricultural and other community-based sectors.

Joel Berg, a nationally-recognized media spokesman in the fields of domestic hunger, food security, obesity, poverty, food-related economic development, national service and volunteerism and Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, will provide keynote remarks during the conference.

Panels throughout the day will focus on community-based advocacy; the farm bill, federal policy and inequality; healthy food access; and funding for anti-hunger efforts.

“The one-day conference offers a unique opportunity to bring together key business leaders, faith based organizations, hunger-relief partners, educators, government officials and nonprofits all collaborating and working together toward real solutions to help empower people and create political will to end hunger in Delaware,” said Coalition to End Hunger Chairwoman Julie Miro Wenger.

“Last year’s event resulted in a lot of enthusiasm from a sold-out crowd for identifying ways to increase our state’s efforts to end hunger,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “As a result we have enhanced our Coalition, are working with educators to increase participation in school breakfast, identifying new ways to bring in more produce for low-income Delawareans and increasing outreach to individuals utilizing food assistance who can serve as advocates in the community. I am excited to see what ideas are generated from this year’s event.”

When: Monday, April 7, 2014; 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Where: Christiana Hilton, 100 Continental Drive

Registration: Registration is $25/person and includes a continental breakfast and lunch


7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.; VIP Breakfast (invitation only; featuring remarks from Rick Goff, Executive Director, Office of Children’s Nutrition, West Virginia)

7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.; Registration, Breakfast, Exhibit Tables

8:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.; Opening Remarks

8:30 a.m. -9:00 a.m.; Announcement of School Breakfast Challenge, Secretary Mark Murphy, Delaware Department of Education

9:00 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.; Keynote address, Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger

10:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.; Community-Based Advocacy

11:15 a.m. – 12:25 p.m.; Farm Bill, Federal Policy and Equality

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.; Lunch

2:05 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.; Healthy Food Access

3:25 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Making it Happen – Funding

Complete panel descriptions and speakers, registration and more information can be found at

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Partner Spotlight: Banneker Elementary’s Backpack Program

028cropBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

One mention of the Food Bank of Delaware’s backpacks brings smiles to the faces of five students at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School in Milford.

Keniah and Sarah, both third graders; Allison, fourth grade, and twins Tamara and Darius, second-grade students, agree they look forward to receiving the weekend meals.

Sarah says she loves the macaroni and cheese, while Keniah’s favorite foods are the cereal and tuna fish.

At this school, 105 children out of the school’s 556 students receive a bag full of food through the Backpack Program.

“More are eligible,” said Maria Griffin, a counselor who coordinates the program for the school.

The students say they also share their food with younger brothers and sisters too.

Backpacks go to children who are identified as at risk for hunger over the weekends or school holiday when federal school meal programs are not available. They are packed with a variety of kid-friendly, nutritious and easy to prepare foods, food including shelf-stable milk and juice, meals such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and beef stew, apple sauce, cereal and more.

“It’s done with secrecy, privacy. I pick out a place, and they come between 1 and 2 p.m. with their school packs. The teachers are e-mailed, and this is when the other kids are in class. It’s not out in the open,” Griffin said.

“Then they put the packs back in their locker.”

Griffin notes that the in addition to participating in the Backpack Program, the students also give back to their community by collecting donations for a school food drive. The most recent effort yielded 270 pounds of food.

In addition to schools, the backpacks are distributed through community centers, childcare centers, Kids Café sites, and more. Close to 5,000 children state-wide participate each week.

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please contact Greg Coumatos, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator at or (302) 292-1305 ext 242.

It costs approximately $158 to provide one child with weekend and holiday food for a whole school year.  This includes the cost of the backpack, food for each week, supplies, transportation and program administration. To sponsor a child, call Larry Haas, Development Director, at (302) 294-0185 or email him at

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Partner Spotlight: Claymont Community Center

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

Tucked away in a residential community in the heart of Claymont, the Claymont Community Center offers area residents an array of services. From the Head Start preschool program and a medical clinic for the uninsured to a food pantry, the center is a one-stop shop. I had the opportunity to visit the center last week just before our last major snow storm hit. As pantry visitors filtered in and out to pick up essentials, the main concern for most was the next day’s forecast for almost a foot of snow.

Doris Lockett, the food pantry manager, said this winter has been especially difficult for pantry visitors. The cold weather, coupled with frequent snow storms, has significantly impacted her clients’ monthly budgets.

In just the last three weeks, Lockett has seen increases. “This is due to the fact that food stamps were cut and unemployment benefits have been cut off,” she explains. “It’s been a big problem for people.”

From 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every Wednesday, the pantry is booked solid with appointments of individuals needing assistance. Households in need are able to visit the pantry every 30 days. She reports seeing new faces in line each Wednesday. A lot of families who never thought they would need help are now in need.
To keep up with demands, the food pantry depends on the support of the community. In addition to food from the Food Bank, the organization receives food drive donations from local organizations, churches and schools and also picks up rescued foods from local grocers, including Trader Joe’s and Acme. Volunteers from the community pick up these donations daily and deliver to the food closet. A second team helps pack grocery bags full of food and distributes to pantry visitors.

Last week during my visit, Wendoli, Gabriel, Yvonne and Steven were on hand to assist. They greeted pantry visitors and helped gather bags full of assorted baked goods, non-perishables, meats, juices, fresh produce, hygiene products and more. As soon as I met the four, I could tell they loved the work they were doing. They all appreciate how thankful food pantry visitorsy are for the extra assistance.

Check out some pictures from the recent visit!



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Share a Second Helping food drive continues through February

Share a Second Helping filled barrelAnti-hunger advocates urge Delawareans to host Share a Second Helping food drives now through the end of February. The Share a Second Helping winter-long giving/awareness campaign launched in December in order to help meet the emergency food needs of Delawareans during the cold winter months. Organizers hope to collect 100,000 pounds of food by Feb. 28.

The Coalition to End Hunger, Food Bank of Delaware, Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Delaware 2-1-1 encourage Delawareans to dig a little deeper this winter season to help families struggling to make ends meet. Thirty-three percent of households served by the Food Bank of Delaware’s network of hunger-relief partners oftentimes report choosing between buying groceries and paying their heating bills.

“This winter has been harsh for all of us,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “But especially for families already struggling to pay their rent/mortgage, heat their homes and put meals on the table. The cold weather, coupled with recent cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the expiration of unemployment benefits for some, has made for a very difficult winter.”

“Many of the 156,000 food assistance clients we serve at DHSS are working outside of the home,” Secretary Rita Landgraf said. “But their paychecks and their food benefits aren’t always enough. That’s why thousands of our neighbors have to turn to the Food Bank of Delaware and other community partners each month to meet their basic food needs. As this harsh winter continues and needs increase, we ask the community to help us restock the food bank and its partners through the Share a Second Helping campaign.”

Share a Second Helping takes a three-pronged approach to assisting Delawareans this winter:

  • Gather food and monetary resources to meet the immediate food needs of Delawareans during the winter months
  • Educate at-risk Delawareans on available resources, including the services of Delaware 2-1-1
  • Work with elected officials and stakeholders to implement long-term solutions to meet these nutritional needs through a strong federal safety net

With a campaign goal of 100,000 pounds, the Food Bank of Delaware encourages individuals, businesses, community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations and others to host winter-long food drives and fundraisers.

A recent study by the Food Research and Action Council shows that Delaware ranks 12th worst in the nation for food hardship amongst households with children. Witnessing firsthand these increased needs from the community, Delaware 2-1-1 fielded more than 100,000 phone calls from Delawareans in need of human services last year.

“Over the last few months, Delaware 2-1-1 has experienced an 11 percent increase in the number of Delawareans who have utilized our service for assistance with food in comparison to this same time last year,” said Delaware 2-1-1 Director Donna Synder-White. “I’m honored that Delaware 2-1-1 is available to serve our community by guiding our neighbors to local resources so they may provide healthy meals for their families in their time of need.”

Central to the campaign’s advocacy component is giving Delawareans utilizing human services a voice in working to bring about systemic change.

“While additional resources will help hunger-relief agencies meet some increased demands, they do not address long-term solutions to the problems of poverty and hunger,” said Coalition to End Hunger Chairwoman Julie Miro Wenger. “We need to work on long-term solutions that will help those struggling to make ends meet. We have working families, seniors, veterans and children that have hunger in common. In this day and age there should be no family, senior, child or vet that has to experience hunger.”

To learn more about Share a Second Helping, please visit Information about food drives, fundraisers and advocacy can be found there. For individuals in need of emergency food assistance, please contact the Delaware 2-1-1 by simply dialing 2-1-1.

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Program spotlight: Cape Henlopen School District Backpack Program

01_16 rehoboth backpack photo

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Judy Hudson, the social worker at Rehoboth Elementary School, is the school coordinator for the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program, but she quickly credits two faithful PTO volunteers as “the energy behind the distribution.”

Statewide, the program serves 4,382 students in 115 schools. Students are referred into the program, rather than based on income requirements or eligibility for free and reduced lunches.

The Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program provides food to children in need for weekends and holidays when school is not in session and federal school meal programs are not available.

Backpacks are stocked with kid-friendly, nutritious food including shelf-stable milk and juice, meals such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and beef stew, granola bars, apple sauce, cereal and more.

Food and informational flyers for the backpacks are packed by volunteers, and the Food Bank of Delaware delivers the bags to participating sites weekly. Site staff stores the bags in a secure area until distribution day.

Dependent upon availability, school supplies are also distributed in the take-home bags.

So each week, the Food Bank trucks deliver 99 backpacks to the Rehoboth school’s back door where they are unloaded by the custodial staff, and then every Thursday volunteers Carrie Robertson and Sandy Monigle take the bags around.

Since these moms are sensitive to how differently older children respond to receiving the bag, they have one system for younger kids and another for those in grades 4 and 5.

Second grade teacher Keri Mitchell places the bags in her students’ backpacks.

“The little ones are very thankful because they will now have food in the house for the weekend. This really helps the whole family,” Mitchell said.

At H.O. Brittingham, another elementary school in the Cape Henlopen School District, Katina Powell is the school secretary and also the designated school coordinator for the past three years.

Powell accepted the responsibility because she was all too aware of the need; of the school’s 583 students, 82 percent live in poverty.

“Who can say no,” she said, adding that she relies on a paraprofessional to distribute the bags to students.

“The Food Bank trucks come on Wednesday, and we take them on Thursday.”

She can see that students love the backpacks.

“It’s done discreetly. If it’s not there, they are looking for it. It’s something that shows we care. The littlest thing, they are appreciative for. We do coat drives, Christmas drives and Thanksgiving drives. We are the only school in my district that has this type of poverty. We do the best we can to make it work,” she said.

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please contact Alina Wade at or (302) 292-1305 ext 210.

It costs approximately $158 to provide one child with weekend and holiday food for a whole school year.  This includes the cost of  food for each week, supplies, transportation and program administration. To sponsor a child, call Larry Haas, Development Director, at (302) 294-0185 or email him at

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Filling little bellies on the weekend with the Backpack Program

Backpack April 2013 2By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit two schools that participate in our Backpack Program, and more specifically to meet the coordinators for a feature story about the program: Judy Hudson at Rehoboth Elementary School and Katina Powell at H.O. Brittingham Elementary in Milton. (Check back for the story on Monday!)

Let me say something at the start: being professionally associated with the Food Bank of Delaware is an honor and a privilege. No matter where I go, people express appreciation for the services we provide, and especially those directed toward children who have no food at home.

Visiting sites is educational on several levels, and it’s also an opportunity to answer questions about the services we offer. These school coordinators were all too familiar with the faces of childhood hunger.

That’s right. Thousands of children here in Delaware come to school for breakfast and lunch, then return home to empty refrigerators and kitchen cupboards. What about the weekends?

The Backpack Program provides nutritious food for these kids over the weekend. Packed inside a five-pound plastic potato bag are four kid-friendly, non-perishable meals and two snacks.

Food Bank trucks deliver these bags to the 115 schools statewide, and from there it takes a team to discreetly put a bag in a child’s backpack. Each school has its own distribution system.

Although the demographics of these elementary schools differ, both schools I visited are part of the Cape Henlopen School District and educate students from kindergarten to 5th grades.

The Backpack Program is set up statewide so that when a teacher or counselor becomes aware of a child who might be food insecure, the designated school coordinator attempts to get parents or guardians to complete the paperwork for this service.

At the school in Rehoboth, 99 backpacks go home each weekend, while 55 are distributed in Milton.

Nevertheless, both school coordinators called the backpacks blessings to those who received them and were extremely appreciative that this program helps their students secure one of life’s basic necessities.

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please contact School Nutrition Coordinator, Alina Wade, at (302) 292-1305 ext 210 or

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Partner Spotlight: St. Patrick’s Center

St Patricks volunteers

Danny (right) and Forrest (left) help in the St. Patrick’s food pantry.

By Kim Turner, Communications Director

St. Patrick’s Center in downtown Wilmington has been meeting the most basic needs of our community since 1971. Under the leadership of Executive Director, Joe Hickey, the center provides emergency food, transportation, homeless respite services, recreational activities, a clothing bank and much more to some of Wilmington’s most-vulnerable populations.

Whether one is in need of a hot breakfast, warm shower, blanket or emergency food box, St. Patrick’s is a judgement-free center. All are welcomed regardless of their position in life.

Seniors and adults with disabilities depend on the Center for transportation to medical appointments.

Families are the largest population served at St. Patrick’s, says Hickey. “If a hungry family needs food or warmth, we bring them in and take care of them.”

St. Patrick’s has experienced a significant increase in demand for services over the past year. On average, the center services approximately 1,200 households each month through its emergency food pantry. In October 2012, 908 households were serviced, however, in October 2013, 1,562 households were serviced – an all-time high for the agency.

Hickey says St. Patrick’s is having a difficult time keeping up with the demand.

Every day the organization’s truck is out on the road picking up donations from local retailers.  And meat is the center’s most popular item, says a committed volunteer named Forrest.

Retired, Forrest volunteers five hours of his time each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He says the best part is “putting a smile one someone’s face.” He works alongside Danny, an employee of St. Patrick’s, and the two are just amazed by the numbers served.

“When I started [seven years ago] we didn’t get this many people,” says Danny.

With increased demands for services, St. Patrick’s now utilizes a part-time social worker who connects visitors with other community services, such as healthcare, nutrition, job training and housing assistance.

Hickey says he’s thankful for the partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware.

To help stock pantries like St. Patrick’s, please consider hosting a Share a Second Helping food drive this winter! Our goal is 100,000 pounds by February 28. To learn more, please click here.


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Delawareans donate 195,553 pounds through holiday food drive

Barton KidsBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

The outpouring of support from our community this holiday season was truly amazing! Thanks to Delawareans, like the Bartons, we collected 195,553 pounds for our neighbors struggling to put meals on the table through our annual holiday food drive.

For the Bartons, the holiday season extends beyond the traditional tree trimming, gift exchange and family dinner.

For the past six years, their season has included an annual food drive to benefit the Food Bank of Delaware.

This year was no exception. The four Dalton children, Parker, Sloan, Dylan and Dalton, who now range from ages 15-23, sent out a notice to the 175 families in their neighborhood west of Camden-Wyoming.

Residents are asked to leave a bag of food near their mailbox or in the garage if it’s raining.  The notice, printed on bright paper, even suggests items most needed by the Food Bank, such as cereals, peanut butter and jelly, beans and rice, pasta and things that make a holiday dinner, like cranberry sauce and stuffing mix.

This year on Dec. 15, all four Bartons piled into the family SUV and made their pick-up rounds. The first year or so, since none were old enough to drive, their mom, Elyse, took the wheel.

Since the neighbors are generous, the family must make three or four trips, returning home to unload in their own garage in between. Then they repack the car and deliver the food to the Food Bank’s Milford warehouse.

They brought their donations in on Dec. 17 in time for holiday distribution.

Over the years, they have collected more than 5,000 pounds of food; this year’s donation weighed in at 888 pounds.

“The neighbors often call if they saw us and forgot, if we missed them,” said Mrs. Barton.

“The reason this is so successful is that people want to donate, put for some people it’s hard to donate, to pack it up and take it somewhere. We make this so easy. Some people like us to do it because we are capable of doing it. We really help people do the good they want to do,” said Dylan Barton.

“We started this when Parker was 9. My hope is that they will continue,” said Mrs. Barton.

This winter we hope our community will continue to help Delawareans struggling to put meals on the table. January and February traditionally are very slow donation months for food banks. To keep the momentum going, the Food Bank of Delaware, Coalition to End Hunger, Delaware Health and Social Services and Delaware 2-1-1 have launched Share a Second Helping, a winter-long giving and awareness campaign.

Please help us collect 100,000 pounds of food by February 28. Together, we can make sure Delawareans don’t have to choose between heating their homes and buying a bag of groceries this winter season! To learn more about the campaign, please click here.



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Partner Spotlight: Christian Storehouse

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

The Christian Storehouse in Millsboro may be off the beaten path, and even though it’s a block or so off busy U.S. 113, for more than two decades it’s been a destination for those in need of food. It’s also a local landmark for the community that supports it through donations or by shopping at the agency’s thrift shop.

12_15 Christian Storehouse photo1webSteve Smith, director, who has been with the Christian Storehouse since its humble start as an emergency food pantry, can elaborate on the changes he’s experienced over the years.

“It came into existence to meet the needs of those in need. We operate on stewardship principles. We not only help with food, we help with electric bills, water bills, prescriptions,” he said.

Rachel Pusey is credited with founding the Christian Storehouse as an outreach of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; early on, five local churches supported the mission. Now there are 16 supporting congregations.

“In the early years, we served the entire county including Georgetown and Milton, but now it’s just the 19966 zip code only,” said Smith.

Christian Storehouse administrators also work closely with the state service center to meet the needs of households.

Today, people in the community donate clothing and home furnishings to the thrift shop on Mitchell Street. Proceeds from those sales help fund operating expenses.

“Until July, we served 250-275 families a month, regularly. In September, October and November, we have been inundated,” he said, pulling sheets of records from his desk drawer.

Those documents show that the Christian Storehouse helped 365 families in September, 379 in October and 408 in November.

“Where are the jobs? It’s been six years, and now where are the jobs? We’re a seasonal economy, and we a12_Christian Storehouse Photo2webre seeing people we have never seen before. Electricians, plumbers, they can’t find work,” he said.

“I think the increasing need is going to be massive. We are just beginning to see the increase.”

In addition, Smith explained, more elderly people are coming in for assistance.

“It’s very difficult for them, but we do more than just hand them food. We establish relationships, and we embrace them. We do this year ‘round.”

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