Harvest Hope Food Bank has resumed full operations at its four emergency food pantries, with the end of some employee furloughs after nearly two months.
“We are pleased to announce the furlough period for closings is over for now, and we will resume regular hours,” Harvest Hope CEO Denise Holland said Monday.
The food bank announced the furloughs – along with several employee layoffs – early in September, citing a significant increase in the number people seeking help over the summer, along with an unexpected spike in other expenses.
Throughout the furloughs – which included one day per pay period – the food bank’s Shop Road location as well as those in Cayce, Florence and Greenville closed on alternating Wednesdays each week. The rotations ended last week, keeping with the expected timeline when the furloughs were announced.
“We know the Wednesday closings were painful for some families ... as they were equally painful but necessary for us,” Holland said.
The furloughs were needed to help offset a funding shortfall resulting from the increased requests for food assistance and other unexpected expenses, officials said.
The food bank served about 70,000 families a month this past summer at its four locations – a substantial increase from the 45,000 to 47,000 families helped in past summer months, they said. The agency also experienced additional costs to rent delivery trucks to replace others out for repair or some that had to be scrapped, as well as to repair a section of roof that collapsed at the Greenville site.
The food bank is awaiting the results of the most recent Feeding America audit. Feeding America oversees more than 190 food banks nationwide, and the semi-annual inspection and audit evaluates such things as the agency’s efficiency in food distribution and other areas of operation. The food bank’s most recent inspection took place in early October, and officials said they expect a final report within 30 days.
Harvest Hope was listed in good standing with the national group as of the most previous audit.
“Harvest Hope appreciates the oversight and input from their Feeding America relationship and from these inspections, which yields valuable information,” food bank spokesman Skot Garrett said.
The Harvest Hope Food Bank serves 20 counties and includes a network of more than 500 soup kitchens and pantries. The food bank serves 9,700 households every week and 93,700 households each year.
To donate to the food bank or learn about volunteering, food drives or other support opportunities, visit harvesthope.org or call (803) 254-4432.