Economy Leads Many To Food Basket's Help
The drastically declining economy has caused many to fixate on the tough winter months ahead that will be plagued with high fuel bills. However, it's not just heating bills that cause worry with local residents on low and fixed incomes, it's also the ever-present fear of being able to put food on the table while keeping a roof over their heads and gasoline in their vehicles.
According to a survey of 50,000 people completed in 2004 by Economic Research Service (ERS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 38 million people are considered "food insecure" as they are unsure where their next meal will come from or if they'll have enough money to purchase food due to such things as utilities and rent. About a third of that group deemed "food insecure" by the government go without eating at times.
The Fulton County Food Basket located along Woodside Drive in Mc- Connellsburg caters to those needing help putting a meal on the table, and officials have witnessed a definite increase in patronage in 2008.
Food Basket Director Susan Cubbage told the "News" the number of people visiting the facility for assistance has jumped 20 percent in the last six months. The current average of monthly orders is approximately 120 and July and August's numbers totalled slightly higher with 138 and 125 orders sent out the doors of the Ayr Township organization.
Emergency food assistance plays a vital role in the lives of low-income families.Cubbage stated while some of the newer patrons at the Food Basket are long-term county residents, other patrons have recently moved to the area in order to take advantage of low-income housing as well as lower monthly rent payments than are available in neighboring counties.
To help with their rise in requests in food, the Food Basket is in the midst of starting its fall letter campaign to area churches and other human-service agencies in search of financial donations to offset its operation and food costs Other groups such as schools and Scouting groups also routinely conduct food drives to help keep the Food Basket's shelves stocked.
Cubbage stated items such as canned soup, vegetables and juices are always staples needed at the Food Basket, which also accepts donations of fresh vegetables and fruits from residents who find their gardens overflowing and are unsure of what to do with the extra produce. Produce is also annually grown through the Food Basket's garden program, which boasted four locally planted and harvested plots this year.
Other programs directly benefiting the Food Basket and its patrons include the "Hunters Sharing the Harvest," a venison program that has been channeling donated veni- son to local food banks and soup kitchens since its creation in Pennsylvania in 1991.
In Fulton County any hunters harvesting a white-tailed deer they do not wish to keep may transport the deer directly to Strait's Meats located at 304 Possum Hollow Road, Harrisonville, where it will be processed at no cost for eventual distribution by the Food Basket. Hunters also reserve the option of only donating a portion of their harvested deer to the program.
Any residents in need of nutritional assistance or more information about the Food Basket is asked to contact Cubbage at 717- 485-5688.