Food Banks Face Pre-Holiday Needs

10-30-06 - A drop in federal food surplus has left local food banks strapped for supplies.

As the holiday season approaches, organizations say they will need donations more than ever.

Big Five Community Services and four other agencies in Carter County rely on the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank to stock their shelves.

The Regional Food Bank depends on government commodities, so when the government announced it was dropping its amount of surpluses this year officials got concerned.

The shelves at Big Five are bare as it is. The organization relies solely on the Regional Food Bank and local donations to feed up to 20 low-income families a month.

However, last fiscal year, the amount of food the Regional Food Bank had to distribute dropped by 3.8 million pounds and it's already down 18 percent for the past three months.

Authorities blame last year's hurricane season and higher farm prices for that.

Although Big Five officials haven't seen a significant impact yet, they fear it's just a matter of time.

Carter County Coordinator Paul Hallum, "We couldn't function very well at all. We would be in trouble if we couldn't get food from the food bank. We would have to get out and really try to get local businesses and so forth to help us. The local businesses have so many people asking for things it would be tough."

Ardmore organizations such as the Salvation Army, Loaves and Fishes and House of Prayer all receive food from the food bank, but donations from the community have kept them afloat.