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Community pitches in to help Harvest Hope meet ‘critical need’

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Harvest Hope Food Bank said Thursday more than $46,000 has been raised in the past 48 hours to meet a “critical need” to purchase canned goods and shelf-stable foods such as meats, fruits and vegetables.

“What a wonderful response from the compassionate people of South Carolina!” said Denise Holland, CEO of Harvest Hope Food Bank. “But we still need your help.”

Earlier this week, Harvest Hope said its pantries were bare of canned goods. The food bank operates warehouse locations in Columbia, Florence and Greenville.

Harvest Hope Food Bank is experiencing a summer shortage and is appealing for donations. (Photo/Provided)Although the emergency donations are enough to buy two tractor-trailer truckloads of food, Holland said more donations are needed.

“A tractor trailer for each area would go a long way in helping us serve nearly 3.75 million meals throughout the state each month,” she said.

According to Holland, monetary donations have ranged from $20 to $20,000 and have come from first-time donors and from Harvest Hope Food Bank volunteers.

The charity received a $25,000 donation Wednesday from two volunteers, who asked to remain anonymous, Holland said. “They work here and saw the need,” she said.

On Thursday, Holland announced another $21,000 had been raised. Donations included $10,000 from Camden-based Cantey Foundation Specialists, $5,000 from BB&T, $5,000 from an anonymous couple, and $1,000 from Heart ‘n Soul, a local band.

The money will be used to buy two truckloads of food, Holland said, adding that Harvest Hope can purchase canned foods at a special rate of $21,000 per tractor trailer load.  Each can, she said, costs 58 cents.

Columbia's minor league baseball team, the Fireflies, is doing its part to help out. Starting tonight, for the final three home Friday games at Spirit Communications Park, fans can receive buy-one get-one-free tickets in specified seating sections for every two canned food items they bring. All cans will be donated to Harvest Hope.

Fans can also bring food on Aug. 19 and Sept. 2. Cans are to be presented at the ticket box office and will be collected at the front entrance.

Harvest Hope, like most food banks around the country, is having to raise more cash to buy food as growers to groceries wring out efficiencies in the supply chain, Holland said.

Also, demand for Harvest Hope’s services are higher in the summer as some parents struggle to feed children who receive free or reduced price meals at school, said Mary Louise Resch, government relations director for Harvest Hope.

However, this summer demand has spiked, Resch added. In June, Harvest Hope served 24,530 people, up 21% over 20,323 for June 2015.

Meanwhile, the number of families receiving food increased 15% from June 2015 to June 2016, Resch said. The charity also recorded a 26% increase in new families seeking aid.

“Each month we serve 1.75 million meals in the Midlands area,” Holland said. “And we are still feeding families who were impacted by last year’s flood.”

A breakdown of what can be done with specific donations:

•    $17 feeds a family for one week.

•    $30 feeds a child for one month.

•    $50 provides 250 meals to those in need.

•    $100 provides 500 pounds of food.

Donations can be made online by clicking here or mailed to Harvest Hope Food Bank, PO Box 451, Columbia, S.C. 29202.

 

 

Reach Chuck Crumbo at 803-726-7542.

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