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Irene depletes foodbank's supplies

Hurricane Irene put a serious dent in the foodbank's supplies.

Now, after stocking its member agencies with 17,500 pounds of food in anticipation of last month's storm, the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula is look for donations.

"Anything will really help," says said Maggie Gerheart, the foodbank's marketing and web administrator. "We are still working on getting our supplies back up."

Donations slow during the summertime and the foodbank is getting into the time of year — fall and winter — that requests for emergency food assistance increase, she said.

At the same time, U.S. Department of Agriculture subsidies, which account for about 22 percent of the foodbank's food resources, have been cut by 60 to 70 percent over the last few months due to the economy, Gerheart said.

The foodbank especially needs canned vegetables, fruits, pasta meals (think Chef Boyardee) and protein, such as meat and beans, Gerheart said.

The foodbank supplies about 200 member agencies with food to distribute to those in need. About 10,900 people receive food each week from the foodbank. Its programs include Kids Café, which feeds children after school at 27 locations on the Peninsula and Middle Peninsula, and a backpack program, which stocks 1,300 backpacks every week with food needy kids can eat over the weekend.

A $65,000 donation from Farm Fresh last week came just in time.

"We needed it, definitely. We were at the point where we were looking at our budget and saying, 'OK, where are we going to have to cut back?' The last thing you want to cut is food for kids," Gerheart said.

The foodbank welcomes donations of canned food, but can do more with monetary donations, she said. Every $1 the foodbank receives can provide four meals. For $17, a child can receive a backpack stocked with kid-friendly, nutritious food for 30 weeks.

"People don't realize we can actually buy 10 times more than if I were going to the grocery store and buying food," she said of monetary donations. "It can go so much farther."

Get involved

September is Hunger Action Month, designed to raise awareness about hunger. Go to http://www.hrfoodbank.org for more information.

Also in September, donate five cans of food to the foodbank at 2401 Aluminum Ave., Hampton, to receive a $5 discount voucher to attend Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream, which runs Wednesday though Oct. 2 at the Hampton Coliseum. There is no limit to how many vouchers individuals can receive.

On Oct. 22, a 5K for the Foodbank will be held at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News. The cost is $20 if postmarked by Oct. 15. Learn more at http://www.hrfoodbank.org.

From Nov. 6-10, bring five non-perishable food items to Ripley's Believe It or Not! at 1735 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, and get an adult ticket for $5 (regular price is $19.99). The food will go to the foodbank.

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