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Urgent need for food donations

SALISBURY — Staff at Rowan Helping Ministries said this week that an increase in requests for food aid has left the charity’s pantry completely out of some staple goods.

An email sent out to locals this week details an “urgent food pantry need” that coincided with the start of summer vacation for local schoolchildren.

Kyna Grubb, Rowan Helping Ministries executive director, said the summer has brought more requests for food donations, as well as more meals served at the soup kitchen.

“In the summer children are home and more is required to feed families,” Grubb said in an e-mail interview.

In response, Grubb said local schools have begun hosting feeding sites to assist families in need.

“We have changed our processes in the food pantry … making it easier for families with children to access our services,” Grubb said.

Since the new Rowan Helping Ministries facility opened in May, Grubb said Jeanie’s Kitchen, which serves lunch daily to those in need, has seen an increase in usage — averaging about 30 more families a day than this time last year.

Food Manager Nate Valentine said part of the increase comes from the fact the new soup kitchen can serve about three times as many people as the old facility.

Valentine said that the new facility makes it easier for families needing assistance to get meals. He said the higher numbers may reflect the fact that more people know they can get help at the new Rowan Helping Ministries facility.

Grubb said she asked her staff to discuss why the need for food is higher this summer.

“What I heard is that they are seeing more people with jobs, but (workers) are underemployed,” Grubb said, “either part-time work, temporary (work) or less pay than they had before.”

Also, Grubb said, unemployment benefits run out sooner than they used to.

“For people on a fixed income and for all of our clients, the cost of living is increasing,” Grubb said.

At the same time, Grubb said, donations of both food and funds have slowed down over the summer.

“It takes about 6,200 pounds of food each week to meet the need in the food pantry,” Grubb said.

The most urgent needs are:

* Canned fruit, any variety

* Canned chicken noodle or vegetable soup

* Canned tomatoes

* Macaroni and cheese

Donations of fresh produce are also appreciated, but RHM asks that deliveries be made early in the week so food doesn’t spoil over the weekend.

“Farmers and gardeners have been very generous and we are so grateful for their support,” Grubb said.

Valentine said rice, beans, canned meats and cereals are also needed.

For those who want to donate, food should be delivered to the Crisis Assistance Center at our loading dock off Liberty St. – located behind the original facility at 226 N. Long St.

More information is available by calling 704-637-6838.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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