Annual food relief campaign falling short of goal

Demand from Springfield-area families outpaces donations for Second Harvest effort.

The Springfield News-Sun’s annual food relief campaign —    a collaboration with the Second Harvest Food Bank and Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio serving Clark, Champaign and Logan counties — is not immune to the downturn in donations that many charities are experiencing this holiday season.

As of this week, Second Harvest Food bank had received $9,838.40 with 195 received donors. The goal, said Keith Williamson, Regional Director of Catholic Charities and Second Harvest, is $30,000-$35,000 by Jan. 1.

That is not good news for the families who are counting on the program to keep their families fed. And the impact won’t just be felt through the holidays.

“Everyone assumes hunger is a problem just during the holidays, but that’s not true,” said Williamson. “It is a problem all year long. This campaign helps us moving forward. (A drop in donations) will require us to tighten our belt even more. We may have to eliminate a staff person, or modify routes to save fuel.

“Just because the money isn’t there doesn’t mean the hunger problem is going away.”

According to Williamson, every dollar donated can purchase four meals.

“When planning food for your holidays, think about donating a couple of dollars more,” he said. “It can really make a difference. I believe people in our community still have a giving heart, but during the holidays, it’s easy to get focused on just your family’s needs.”

Williamson says each day, 15 to 20 families have to be turned away at Second Harvest’s own pantry alone.

“I realize every charity in the world has their hand out,” he said. “It’s just a side-effect of the economy. They keep talking that it is rebounding, but it doesn’t seem like that in this area.”

The food bank might be able to get some help from food banks in the larger cities, Williamson said. But they are facing drops in donations, too.

What needs to happen to rescue the program from a sizable shortfall?

“We’re probably going to have to have a few big donors step up,” said Williamson. “We’ve had some in the past that we haven’t heard from yet, so I’m hoping that’ll happen.”

At least there is a little good news.

“All our corporate retail donors are stepping up big on the food end,” said Williamson. “Food wise, we’ll probably squeeze by in the holidays. It’s January that I’m worrying about.”

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