Selma Area Food Bank supporting less due to drop in donations

Published 11:23pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Many families in Selma are already preparing a menu and stocking up on supplies for their Thanksgiving feast next week, and some are even looking ahead in preparation for the entire holiday season. The Selma Area Food Bank, however, which currently serves as a major food provider to nearly 40 agencies in four counties, has a warehouse full of empty shelves, meaning both the food bank and the agencies they work with are in need of the continued support of the community.

“We still have a lot of empty space,” J.D. Parks, director of the Selma Area Food Bank said.

The food bank donations are currently 20 percent less than what they were at this time last year, and while that number has increased 15 percent from the reports published two weeks ago, the food bank is still in need.

“There’s been an uptick in donations,” Parks said, but doesn’t want people to get the impression that the food bank no longer needs help. “To give you perspective, last year, year-to-date we distributed 1, 070,000 pounds, roughly, and this year, year-to-date we’ve done 850,000. So we’re more than 400,000 pounds [of food] below [what we distributed] the year before.”

The drop in donations appears to be an unfortunate trend as Parks said in 2010 the food bank distributed 1,200,000 pounds of food.

“People need to eat everyday, not just Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that’s what we do,” Parks said. “We do this all year long. This is an everyday process for us. It’s not like we have special efforts for holidays.”

Parks reiterated the fact that while donations of canned goods are appreciated, money goes much further.

“[Because we deal with agencies] we need cases of things not individual cans — but I don’t want to diminish anybody wanting to bring us a bag full of canned goods. We actually had a couple people come in today with a grocery bag full of non-perishable stuff, which is fine, we like that,” Parks said. “Certainly food donations are nice; non-perishable food donations are always good, but again, money goes further and we deal with agencies, and agencies need [bulk items].”

Christian Outreach Alliance for example, wants things in increments of 260, Parks said, and in order to buy bulk items, the food bank needs monetary donations.

The Selma Area Food Bank is able to purchase food from wholesalers as well as from their affiliates at the Montgomery Area Food Bank at a much lower rate, meaning donating money is more effective than donating food.

“For instance, if you as an individual wanted to help the food bank and said, ‘I’m going to go to the grocery store,’ and buy 10 pounds of food; it’s going to cost you about $20. If you gave me that $20, I could buy with that, 220 pounds of food,” Parks said.

For those interested in making a donation, whether it be non-perishable food items or money, Parks said donations can be dropped off at 497 Oak St. or mailed to P.O. Box 2513, Selma, Ala., 36702. The Selma Area Food Bank is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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