Second Harvest said it needs to raise an additional $80,000 by the end of December as food stamp cuts threaten the stability of thousands of local households.
And that's on top of what is typically collected during the holiday season, said Jean Tucker, development director for the charity's Tri-City office.
Reductions in food stamp benefits mean the loss of about 15 meals a month, on average, for a family of four, Second Harvest said.
With the food stamp reductions that took effect Nov. 1, along with higher consumer prices and other economic challenges, Second Harvest officials said it must be prepared for even longer food bank lines.
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"We expect need to spike during the winter months, but we know that food stamp cuts are putting even more people at risk of hunger," said Jason Clark, president and CEO of Second Harvest. "We hope to earn the community's support to replace as many of those missing meals as possible."
The additional $80,000 in donations will cover Second Harvest's costs for transporting, warehousing and distributing almost a half a million pounds of donated food. Tucker said money collected locally will be used to provide for local families and needs.
The extra donations needed will provide the equivalent of 400,000 meals for hungry people in the Columbia Basin and throughout the Inland Northwest. That's 50,000 more meals a week in December and January.
More than 2,500 volunteers sort and pack food donations, staff food drives and perform other tasks that help Second Harvest turn every donated dollar into five meals for people in need, the release said.