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Food banks seeing summer drop in donations

(Radio Iowa) – Summertime is one of the hardest times of the year for food banks as donations drop off dramatically. Brian Barks, spokesman for the Food Bank for the Heartland, says they’re launching a new effort allowing people to “text” donations to the agency. Barks says the signs are clear the economy isn’t getting any better.

“Families are having a hard time making ends meet,” Barks says. “If you think, when’s the last time we heard of a company saying we’re adding upper, high-paying jobs? The jobs we’re adding to the economy are lower-level, service-related jobs.” A recent “Map the Meal Gap” study was compiled by the group Feeding America and Barks says the results were troubling.

“The study that’s done each June says 211,000 people in our service area are at risk for hunger,” Barks says. “That number has been pretty much flat the last three years. What that tells us is the issue of hunger isn’t getting any worse but it’s not getting any better.”

It’s hoped the new texting program will lure more people into donating cash to the food bank. They just need to text the word “feed” to 501-501 from a cell phone.

“And all you do is type in ‘yes’ and hit ‘send’ and you’ve made a $10 donation,” Barks says. “That will allow us to provide 30 meals to people who need it.” The Omaha-based facility supplies food items to 325 food pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens in 93 counties across western Iowa and Nebraska.

Last year, it provided food to 19,000 families in need, in addition to helping emergency shelters, after-school programs, senior housing sites and rehab centers.