Like many food pantries around the state, the Grayson County Alliance’s food pantry has watched its donations decline in recent years.
“Some of the pipelines are drying up,” director Donna Wilson said of donations.”The community has been very generous, but some of our food sources just aren’t available anymore. … It’s an ongoing struggle.”
The pantry serves as a supplemental food source for about 900 Grayson County families — or about 1,800 people — each month. That number has been fairly steady for the last couple of years, Wilson said.
Each family gets 20 to 25 items per month — a mixture of donated items, purchases and government commodities. Wilson said as few as a dozen years ago, the pantry would have 20 to 25 commodity items to offer those using the service. Now, they generally receive five or six.
“One month recently I only had four (commodity) items,” she said.
Cash donations are used to buy items from a food bank. The problem, Wilson said, is their donations and food sources are drying up as well.
Food manufacturers are becoming more efficient, meaning there are less overruns, seconds and other items for the food banks and pantries. And in the winter, donations of fruits and vegetables from area farmers aren’t available.
That’s where drives, like the Harvest of the Heart drive recently conducted in Grayson County and the U.S. Postal Service’s “Stamp Out Hunger” program in the spring, play an important part.
Wilson said individuals, churches and other organizations donate to the pantry. Virtually any non-perishable items are accepted. Especially needed are protein items such as peanut butter and canned or dried meats.
Also needed are cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products. The food pantry maintains a “choice area,” where people can obtain those products and bonus donations depending on their family size.
The message to the general public, according to Wilson? “Donate, please donate.”
“One person can make a difference,” she said.