Food banks starving for help

EWING, N.J. - November 18, 2008 - That's why those charities are in desperate need of help.

Usually in November the shelves at Mercer Street Friends Food Bank in Ewing, New Jersey are stacked high and the freezers are filled with turkeys.

Not this year.

With the economy tanking and unemployment on the rise, fewer companies and individuals are donating food at a time when more people need it.

"This is the worst I've seen in the 20 years I've been involved in food banking," said Phyllis Stoolmacher of the food bank.

But it's not just turkeys in short supply. Food bank officials say donations of the staples like cereal, canned goods and fruits and vegetables have also dropped off.

"We're down on all kinds of food that we need to sustain people, and with the winter months coming we think even more people will be in need," Stoolmacher said.

Mercer Street Friends supplies food donations to 50 different charities in the Trenton area. One of them is HomeFront, which helps assist the homeless and where demand for food and shelter has jumped 30%.

"We usually go every Thursday to get a weeks supply of food. We've upped our orders, and by Monday we are totally out of food," said Conner Mercer of HomeFront.

"I think it's the economy. I mean, we have people who would sponsor people for Thanksgiving and Christmas are actually walking through the door as clients," said Jacqueline Stacey of Homefront.

One woman was trying to pull enough food items together for a holiday meal.

"I get a free turkey from the supermarket, and then I pick up a few things to make a Thanksgiving dinner," said Kate Sulia of Ewing, New Jersey.

Food pantries are asking people to donate food and money because, they say, the emptier the shelves get...the scarier it is.

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