Food bank has to raise $1 million or start charging for produce

(Photo: Elvissa on Flickr)

The Capital Area Food Bank is trying to raise $1 million by August 1 to avoid charging its partner agencies that pass out food to the needy.

The food bank is facing a budget gap of $1 million. President and CEO Lynn Brantley said rising food and transportation costs have caused the budget shortfall.

The Capital Area Food Bank is trying to close the gap through donations, grants and working with foundations. But if it cannot raise enough money by August 1, it will have to start charging the more than 700 agencies that receive its produce.

For Ruby Flournoy and other James Creek residents in Southeast D.C., the Monday drop-off by the food bank is a welcome surprise.

Flournoy says she wouldn't buy some items of produce she couldn't afford. “If I had to go to the store and purchase it with food stamps or cash I would not be able to purchase the fresh produce for my child,” she said.

Organizations that receive food from the food bank would have to pay a 10-cent fee on every pound of produce. One palette of produce, typically 300 pounds, would cost a food pantry or other group $30. For many groups, that would mean an additional $30,000 a year.

“The need is tremendous and the costs are very high and hunger has not gone away. It's very real and very alive,” the food bank’s Brantley said.

The food bank will not charge low-income neighborhoods or residents that get direct drop-offs. Congress is considering some $800 million in cuts to food assistance programs - like food stamps. The food bank is anticipating the need will grow as programs are cut.