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FORCE to hit the roof for food drive
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On Nov. 13, beginning at 1:30 p.m., the FORCE steering committee (composed of Lisa Bush, Janice Mydell, Glenda King, Elaine Spencer and Bonnie Dixon) will “go to new heights” to help raise food for the pantries by climbing onto the roof top of a local business and staying there until 1,000-canned food items have been collected and brought to the designated location.

With donations dwindling, Effingham food pantries are struggling to stock their shelves. Today, the number of Effingham residents experiencing difficulty affording needed food has steadily increased over the needs of 2007.  

In the present down-turned economy, more and more working families are falling behind in their fight to make ends meet. Rising food costs, continued high gasoline prices, and soaring utilities have forced many families to seek assistance from local food pantries, including: God’s Mission House Our Daily Bread, the Pantry at First Christian of Rincon, and Manna House Ministries.  Without these food pantries, many individuals would go without food.  

Middle-class working families have now joined single parent households and seniors on fixed incomes in seeking assistance from food pantries. The reason?  In addition to the escalating food, gasoline, and utility costs, this segment of the population is faced with mortgage payments increasing due to their financing plan, and/or work lay-offs or reduction in work hours and overtime.

In 2007, the four food pantries noted above assisted 4,127 households in Effingham County (2,834 in the first three quarters of 2007). Comparatively, the first three quarters of 2008, these same pantries have provided supplemental food to 3,955 families.

If this increase continues at the same rate by the end of 2008 our food pantries could see an alarming increase of 72 percent over the previous year.

With the need for food assistance continuing to grow, the Food OutReach Co-op of Effingham (FORCE) reminds everyone that hunger and starvation have significant consequences:
• Malnourished pregnant women are more likely to have stillborn or low birth weight babies.

• Inadequately nourished infants and children are apt to have learning problems and more disabilities.

• Hungry teens and adults are less energetic and productive, making it difficult to do well in school, find and keep a job, or care for children.

• Malnourished elderly persons are less able to prevent illness and enjoy good health.

Established in 2006, the FORCE collaborative has worked steadfast in their efforts to FORCE hunger out of Effingham and continues to operate with the following assurances:
• Accessibility — anyone in need of food can access a food pantry for assistance

• Resources — maintaining, through donations, grants, and other resources, adequate nutritional inventory at the food pantries

• Education — case management support to program recipients

• Accountability — preventing abuse and the duplication of services by tracking recipients through a countywide data base system; thus being good stewards of all donations to the program and pantries.

How to help
• Several schools are conducting food drives over the next couple of weeks…if your child asks to bring a canned food item to school – please be supportive of their concern for others and offer a generous donation.

• Churches, youth clubs and civic clubs are encouraged to host a food drive.  

• Is a special event planned in the near future? Why not ask participants to bring a canned food item.

All food items donated will remain in Effingham County and will be divided among the four participating food pantries.