At its turkey giveaway on Wednesday, the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula gave out 1,100 birds but couldn't meet the needs of its more than 200 member agencies. This time last year it had 1,400 turkeys to give away.
"We didn't have even a fraction of what we needed. One identified 10 families in need, but we could only give that agency one," said Loretta Jones-Knauth, chief philanthropy officer for the Foodbank. By Monday, she's hoping that donations to the "Mayflower Marathon" at
"That's 300 families with children who aren't planning on sitting down to a meal right now," she said. Last year's marathon collected 150,000 pounds of food, which was a drop in donations from 2010. However, last-minute cash donations from two local companies allowed Jones-Knauth to make up the difference by buying food. Each 1.21 pounds of food supplies a meal, she said.
For every dollar given, the Foodbank can leverage $6 in groceries, said Susan Mayo, chief marketing officer for the
"We just had the worst quarter, without any inventory on the shelves. I've never seen it this bad," said Jones-Knauth, a 14-year veteran of the Foodbank. At the organization's mid-summer accounting, it had almost 34,000 fewer pounds in donated foods than 2011. Facilities manager Bill Fite agreed that the situation is among the worst he's seen. "We're in dire need. We're really short. It goes out as fast as it comes in. We're surviving on store donations."
To acquire the 1 million pounds of food it doles out each month, the Southeastern Virginia Foodbank relies on a mix of monetary donations, products from food drives, and its "food rescue" program. In the latter, grocery store partners and restaurants donate edible but non-saleable items, said Mayo. Last year, it received 5 million pounds of food from those partnerships, while the Peninsula took in 2.25 million pounds of prepared foods.
Bethel Church in Hampton regularly visits the Foodbank to supply its outreach efforts. Every week it serves dinner to 160 people and delivers bags of food with meat to low-income families. "Every time I go there, by the grace of God I find something," said Jose Rodriguez, pastor of its Spanish ministry. "There's a big need in our community."
At First Baptist
Representatives of both food banks commended community members for their generosity, while pointing to the relentless, ongoing need. For example,
Community food drives typically pick up during the holidays, but so does the demand. "Children aren't in school and families need to provide for those extra meals. It causes a lot of stress and heartache," said Jones-Knauth. "So many are the working poor, military families who have someone deployed and they're paying child care, or have a medical co-pay. Seniors can't afford fresh fruits and vegetables. They need to be buying healthier things."
Want to donate?
What: Turkeys, chickens, canned meats or fish, other canned goods; cash donations.
Where: Parking lot at Peninsula Town Center to benefit Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula, 2401 Aluminum Ave.,
When: 5 a.m. Friday, Nov. 16 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18.
16th annual Mayflower Marathon sponsored by 106.9 The Fox, WAFX and FM99 with live broadcasts around the clock.
• 71,670 residents on the Virginia Peninsula suffer food insecurity
• Of those, 20,000 are children
• Serves residents of 10 localities, from
• Has 228 member agencies
• $1 donation provides three meals