Local News Spotlight

With shelf-life problem, local food banks are running short

Updated: 2012-10-31T04:35:51Z

By SANGEETA SHASTRY

The Kansas City Star

Some local food banks and pantries have a shelf-life problem. They’re largely flush with fresh produce, but not so much with long-lasting canned goods.

Ellen Feldhausen, a spokeswoman for Harvesters — The Community Food Network, said there’s more fresh produce coming in and fewer nonperishable items that people might donate at schools and grocery stores. Harvesters works with more than 620 food pantries, community kitchens and other nonprofits to provide food in 26 counties.

“We are on track, but it is a challenge to meet those goals,” Feldhausen said of Harvesters’ targets for distributing supplies to its partner agencies. “It’s a challenge for us to acquire the amount and the type of goods that our agencies are wanting.”

While donations of fresh produce are helpful because those who receive food from organizations like these might otherwise have a hard time getting their hands on it or affording it, food banks also need nonperishable products, Feldhausen said.

“We are all challenged to have enough food to serve the need out there right now,” she said. “If you talked to any of our agencies, they would say that they are challenged to have enough food.”

David Davenport, chief executive officer of Second Harvest Community Food Bank, which serves partner organizations in 19 Missouri and Kansas counties, said the last year has been particularly challenging for his organization. Food banking has changed a lot even in the last couple of years, he said.

The amount of food that Second Chance typically gets from a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative called the Emergency Food Assistance Program has been slashed by more than half, down to 500,000 pounds last year from 1.1 million during the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Davenport said.

“This is going to be tough holiday season,” he said. “We’re hoping for a great response from our friends and donors, but we’re having to get creative.”

To reach Sangeeta Shastry, call 816-234-4690 or email sshastry@kcstar.com.

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