By Sam Reveley
America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia (ASHCG) is a volunteer-driven nonprofit food bank that serves over 300 nonprofit agencies in 21 counties throughout southeastern Georgia. ASHCG primarily serves as a warehouse and distribution center for the food donated to organizations including: food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, domestic abuse facilities, senior centers and day care centers for low-income children.
With a mission to “feed hungry people and strengthen communities,” ASHCG feeds approximately 147,000 people, 80,000 of them are children.
This summer, it has become increasingly difficult for ASHCG to provide low-income families and local nonprofits agencies with the food they need. While operating with 85 percent less food donations, ASHCG calls out to the community to fight against local hunger.
“Our shelves are empty,” said Karen Franklin, ASHCG’s director of marketing and development. “Once that food is gone, there is nothing to replace it with.”
“Since I’ve been with the food bank, this is the first time we have ever been out of green beans and corn; both stable items are usually in plentiful supply,” said Mary Jane Crouch, executive director of ASHCG.
The Kid’s Café, a local organization supported by ASHCG, is an after school program that provides tutoring sessions and hot evening meals to children eligible for free and reduced-price school lunches. According to the SCAD office of student involvement, an average of 35 students volunteer with the Kid’s Café every quarter. Due to the current food shortage, this program is in danger of not receiving the food it needs to operate.
“Now, with a critically low supply of food, we don’t have enough resources for our programs that provide hungry children with nutritious meals in the evenings and during weekends and holidays when school meals aren’t there to help,” said Crouch.
When asked what may have caused donations to dramatically decline, Franklin answered, “the rising cost of both fuel and food has really impacted everybody. That coupled with the rise in the need for food, releases the situation for the perfect storm.”
Due to an increase in need and decrease in donations, ASHCG is in serious danger of not being able to support their initiatives to relieve childhood hunger this upcoming school year. In response to the crisis, Crouch is calling Savannah to action. “Our community is always amazing in responding to the needs of others and we really need help right now to stock the shelves.”
ASHCG is looking for non-perishable food donations, especially canned foods high in protein: peanut butter, beef stew, soup, meat spreads, tuna, salmon, chicken, ham, beef-a-roni and ravioli. These types of food are particularly challenging for low-income families to obtain.
Anyone interested in donating today may visit food drives being held at Bella’s Italian Restaurant at 4420 Habersham St., Sullivan’s Staffing at 37 W. Fairmont Ave., Gigi’s Cupcakes at 5521 Abercorn St., and all local YMCA locations.
Until 5 p.m. today, Bella’s Italian Restaurant is offering 20 free breadsticks for any donation of 5 or more canned goods.
Until further notice, Gigi’s Cupcakes is offering 15 percent off any in-store order for non-perishable food items. On Aug. 20 from 1 to 6 p.m., Gigi’s Cupcakes is also offering one free cupcake for any donation of 5 or more canned goods.
Anyone interested may also donate directly online through ASHCG’s Virtual Aid Drive. This food drive program allows donators to give monetary donations for specific items that ASHCG is lacking. One dollar equates to approximately four meals.
Food drives are a crucial source for food donations for ASHCG. In an average year, approximately 300,000 pounds (of more than 8.1 million pounds distributed) are donated through food drives. More than 306,000 pounds were donated last fall during the Extreme Makeover Home Edition food drive. About 35,000 pounds were donated last May during the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Our Hungry food drive.
For more information about food donations or conducting a food drive to alleviate local hunger, visit www.helpendhunger.org or call 912-236-6750.
To following upcoming ASHCG events, visit www.facebook.com/Help.End.Hunger.GA.Contact Sam Reveley.