FoodBank Sees Big Jump In Need
11/22/11 5:50PM By Patti Daniels  Download MP3
(Host) The Vermont FoodBank says it's distributed significantly more food this fall than last autumn.
VPR's Patti Daniels explains why:
(Daniels) The same three words underlie many problems facing the state now: Tropical Storm Irene. In September, the Vermont FoodBank distributed one million pounds of food across the state, up from 600,000 pounds last September.
FoodBank CEO John Sayles gives the example of the Waterbury food shelf, which expanded its hours to keep up with the new demand.
(Sayles) "They had been open once a week, and they were open for the first six weeks every day. We know of families in Waterbury, they're middle class working families, but they've lost so much that they're going to the food shelf."
(Daniels) The FoodBank is a central distribution center that provides food to 280 food shelves and meal centers around the state. About 86,000 Vermonters access these services each year, nearly 1 in 7 people in the state.
Sayles says when family budgets are stretched too thin, people resort to buying unhealthy food simply because it's the cheapest.
(Sayles) "If you're at risk for hunger and you don't have much in the way of resources for food, you're going to go for the cheapest calories you can so that you feel full. A 2-liter bottle of soda is 99 cents. How much lettuce can you buy for 99 cents? I don't think you can buy a head of lettuce for 99 cents."
(Daniels) Sayles says asking for food assistance is often a difficult decision, even for families in serious need:
(Sayles) "It can be a tremendously emotional experience to not have enough food. Food is very emotional thing to people. So, give yourself a break. And go ahead and ask for help. We want everyone to be fed in this state. And in this country."
(Daniels) The FoodBank has seen an increase in need since the economic downturn in 2008.
For VPR News, I'm Patti Daniels.
(Host) You can find out about the food shelf or meal center nearest you by calling 211 or go to vtfoodbank.org.