Efforts to feed the area's hungry will get a $100,000 boost today, with funds helping to launch a new emergency food panty opening this spring.
Harvest Hope Food Bank will receive the contribution from the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation at its Shop Road facility at 10 a.m.
The contribution comes as the food bank is experiencing record requests for food assistance in the midst of a strained economy that has left many without jobs and struggling to feed families.
"We are seeing a wide and diverse spectrum of people, many who until recently held good-paying jobs and never thought they would find themselves in positions of urgent need," said Harvest Hope chief executive officer Denise Holland.
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Demand for food is up more than 100 percent over the same period last year throughout Harvest Hope's 20-county service area, Holland said.
At the Shop Road facility alone, as many as 500 people have been lining up every day for food in recent weeks.
Demand is expected to increase, too, with the Thanksgiving holiday, and officials are seeking the community's help to provide food for families in need.
"The term 'economic recovery' has no meaning for someone out of work trying desperately to feed their family," Holland said.
The Wachovia contribution will support Harvest Hope's hunger relief efforts and help jump-start the new emergency food panty, which will open at 1825 Laurel St.
"Harvest Hope Food Bank is experiencing tremendous demand, and we are proud to support the food bank in their efforts to help all members of our community," said Holt Chetwood, Midlands market president for Wachovia.
The new pantry site was selected largely because of its proximity to public housing and bus stops, as well as its accessibility to large delivery trucks.
Once it opens in the spring, it will replace the emergency food pantry at Shop Road, where the food bank's warehouse will remain.
Harvest Hope opened its latest emergency food pantry in Cayce earlier this year, and agency officials say the Laurel Street site reflects the community's growing needs and the agency's attempts to meet them.
Some of the needs are more immediate as the food bank anticipates more than 2,000 people at the Shop Road site next week.
To respond to the expected increase, Harvest Hope is asking the community's help to provide Thanksgiving meals.
"We are asking the community to show compassion and help us provide for the hungry in the community, many of whom are their own neighbors," Holland said.
HELP FOR THE HUNGRY
Harvest Hope Food Bank is seeking the community's help to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need. The food bank is accepting financial donations as well as contributions of canned hams, turkeys and other food items. Here is how you can help:
- Make an online donation by going to www.harvesthope.org and clicking "Donate Now."
- Mail financial donations to Harvest Hope Food Bank, P.O. Box 451, Columbia, SC 29202
- Bring food donations to the Shop Road food pantry, 2220 Shop Road, Columbia, or the Lexington Emergency Food Pantry, 1775 12th Street Ext., Cayce, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- For more information, call (803) 254-4432, ext. 2107, or visit www.harvesthope.org.