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Prices and supplies hurting food donations

Prices and supplies hurting food donations

Jennifer Jones the executive director of Helping Hands of Goose Creek inside the facility on Nov. 18.

It’s been a tough year for the Lowcountry Food Bank, which serves 10 coastal counties that include Berkeley and Dorchester. Its partner agencies include the Community Resource Center (CRC) in Summerville.

For a year and a half, the CRC has given out 400 to 450 boxes of food every Monday, executive director Louis Smith said. And that's just the amount of the one grocery program in Dorchester County. The amount of food, in pounds, the Lowcountry Food Bank handed out in 2020 goes well into the millions.

While nothing has changed with the number of people needing help, recently things have become a little tighter when it comes to donations. As costs of food and other goods increase, food and monetary donations to the food banks drop off, and the money they do have doesn't buy as much food as it used to.

“The pandemic has evolved over the months and to be honest over the years as well,” said Nick Osbourne, president and CEO of Lowcountry Food Bank. “As we start to see issues associated with the supply chain and issues with availability — and related to all that, you know, is the cost associated with fuel and transport — and all of that gets passed on and therefore makes it more difficult for those that need support.”

The Lowcountry Food Bank helps fight hunger by distributing food to nearly 300 partner agencies, including on-site meal programs, homeless shelters and emergency food pantries. But it’s not getting any cheaper, and things are not looking any better.

“I think that lag will continue for some time to come as people continue to adjust to the inflationary pressures and to rising prices and also availability, the ready availability for all these things in the markets,” said Osbourne.

It’s not just the Lowcountry Bank. Smaller organizations are feeling the pinch as well. Helping Hands of Goose Creek is an emergency assistance center and food pantry serving individuals and families who are experiencing a life crisis situation. Staff say their mission is to help these families achieve self-sufficiency regardless of the life crisis event, but that help now costs more.

“We do see fluctuations in donations that have come from our individual organizations and churches,” said Jennifer Jones, the executive director for Helping Hands of Goose Creek. “We understand things are changing with the supply chains, but luckily we still have a enough donations to help us provide for our families.”

During the height of the pandemic last year, Helping Hands of Goose Creek had 3,144 families come into the pantry on Commerce Place. So far in 2021, there have been over 1,600 visits.

“We are constantly seeking more donations, both food donations and monetary donations. We are a nonprofit and everything we do, whether it’s the rent for the facility or gas for the vans that picks up at the stores,” said Jones.

To donate to Helping Hands of Goose Creek, there is a drop box at the facility. For monetary donations call 843-553-7132 or visit helpinghandsofgoosecreek.org.

For information on the Lowcountry Food Bank, visit lowcountryfoodbank.org/donateoa.