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Area food pantries struggle as more families seek help

November 11, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • About 50 volunteers bagged 2,000 pounds of beans and rice in one-pound bags at Salvation Army Glendale on Saturday.Volunteers from the Salvation Army, Glendale Kiwanis and Glendale College Circle K lent a hand to bag food that will go out to about 1,000 families.
About 50 volunteers bagged 2,000 pounds of beans and rice… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Rice and beans may be simple, but those pantry staples are essential for any family desperate to prepare meals on a meager budget.

David Cormier saw the value in those food staples firsthand when he was deployed to Bosnia and Somalia under the United Nations Peacekeeping forces. During his missions, U.N. representatives distributed rice to hungry families who often holding only cups to gather supplies.

Cormier later returned home to see many local families were also in dire need of food and struggling to stay afloat during the protracted recession. So he and the Glendale Kiwanis Club decided to join forces in 2009 to help feed local residents by supplying a ton — 2,000 pounds — of beans and a ton of rice four times a year to the Salvation Army Glendale’s food pantry.

On Saturday, Cormier and fellow Kiwanians delivered the massive rice and bean supply to the food pantry and repackaged it so it can be distributed to 1,400 families.

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The substantial donation couldn’t have come at a better time for the nonprofit organization as it prepares its food pantry to deal the demands of feeding local families through the winter, said Rick White, director of social services for the local Salvation Army.

The organization has feed 7,000 individuals this year, he added.

“We hope to build an inventory during the holiday season to be able to get through the spring,” he said.

That sentiment was echoed by organizers of local food pantries who said keeping the shelves stocked has become challenging as families and seniors struggle with rising food prices and cuts to food-stamp benefits.

Food bank organizers have noticed that while the economy is slowly bouncing back, workers whose hours have been slashed or were recently laid off are visiting their facilities because they have had difficulty making ends meet.

Organizers at Loaves and Fishes, a food bank in south Glendale operated by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles Inc., is still waiting for a $20,000 Emergency Food and Shelter grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The grant was supposed to be issued in February, said Lora Young, the food bank’s program coordinator. Last year, however, the funding wasn’t delivered to the food bank until September and this year, it apparently will be even later.

“We are getting by [by] the skin of our teeth,” she said.

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