Feeding America SWVA Seeking Community Support

Financial shortfall could mean 2 million fewer meals for the hungry; Kroger to match $20,000 in contributions

Pamela Irvine, CEO of Feeding America SWVA, speaks about the growing need to feed the region's hungry.
Pamela Irvine, CEO of Feeding America SWVA, speaks about the growing need to feed the region’s hungry.

Feeding America Southwest Virginia (Feeding America SWVA) has issued an appeal to the community for additional financial donations to ensure it can continue to maintain its level of food distribution to hungry people in the region. Rising food and distribution costs are rapidly outpacing financial donations, raising the possibility that 2 million fewer meals could be served by partner feeding programs this year.

“While we are always very grateful for the financial gifts from our donors, like everyone else we’re seeing higher fuel prices and other food distribution expenses,” said President and CEO Pamela Irvine. “To help us sustain our current level of service, we are asking the public for additional financial support. Over the last four years, when many families struggled, Feeding America SWVA has strived to expand to meet the increase in demand throughout our 26-county region. We are now making this appeal to individuals, corporations, civic groups and the faith community to be able to continue to serve people in need.”

Feeding America SWVA is increasingly concerned that it will need to reduce programs if additional financial support is not received, resulting in less food provided to fewer people. Last year, the Food Bank provided enough food for more than 13 million meals to the hungry in Southwest Virginia.

One in six people in Southwest Virginia struggle to put food on their table. Since 2008, Feeding America SWVA has experienced a 57 percent increase in food distributed as well as a 52.3 percent increase in the number of households served through its 405-partner feeding programs.

One partner feeding program recently stated, “From six-figure incomes to minimum wage income job losses, people are hurting. Any reduction to the family budget impacts us all at the most basic level.” One woman with a master’s degree in engineering recently lost her job and was on the verge of losing her apartment. Many people standing in line today at one time held well-paying jobs, and some were even past financial donors. They don’t know where else to turn.

In response to fiscal challenges, Feeding America SWVA has been researching sustainable financial models, analyzing expenditures, reducing costs where possible and evaluating program services. The organization is currently contemplating scaling back its food distribution program.

“These are tough times for non-profits that depend on the generosity of others,” Irvine says. “Feeding America SWVA’s challenge is to maintain realistic expectations while continuing to meet the most basic human need — food.”

The Food Bank’s long-term partner, Kroger, has once again come forward to lend its support. At a news conference today in Salem, Kroger announced that it will match total customer donations up to $20,000 in April. For more than 30 years Kroger has partnered with Feeding America SWVA to provide hunger relief in the communities where their associates and customers live and shop.

Kroger customers in its stores from Smith Mountain Lake to Bristol have four ways to participate in the campaign through April 27:

· Round up their order by donating change up to the next even dollar amount when checking out;

· Add a $1 or $5 donation to their order when checking out;

· Donate their change in the coin collection box at the checkout counter, and

· Purchase a box of nonperishable food items for $10.95. The box contains food for 11 meals for a family.

After April 27, Kroger will tally the cash raised and then match that amount up to $20,000.

Visit www.faswva.org for more information Feeding America SWVA.