As 2014 came to an end, the New Hampshire Food Bank tallied the number of meals it provided in the state, reporting a record amount of food distributed.
“Our partners stepped up,” said Director of Operations Bruce Wilson. “That gives us access to more product.”
More than 11 million pounds of food were distributed to agencies across the state, which is equivalent to more than 9.1 million meals, the food bank announced yesterday. More donations contributed to the 29 percent increase over 2013, Wilson said.
“I know if I had 20 million pounds, I’d ship 20 million pounds out the door,” Wilson said.
Underemployment is a factor in the demand for food, Wilson said. Underemployment is defined as “persons working full-time or part-time in jobs that are below their earning capacity or level of competence” by New Hampshire Employment Security. The 2014 third-quarter numbers from NHES report that 10.2 percent of people in the state as unemployed or underemployed.
“One in nine individuals are considered food insecure,” said Nancy Mellitt, director of development at the food bank. Food insecurity, she said, is defined as individuals not knowing from where their next meal will come.
“General need is going up,” Mellitt said. The New Hampshire Food Bank – the only statewide food bank – supplies about half of the food distributed in New Hampshire, she said. The food that is distributed to about 400 agencies, such as food pantries and soup kitchens, is donated from grocery stores, individuals and corporations. From those agencies, food is given to families and individuals in need.
“When we get good partners . . . the more we can bring in, the more we can get out,” Wilson said.
The fall and winter typically bring in the most donations; after the holiday season, donations slow until harvest season, Wilson said. During the summer, many people do not think about donating or volunteering, he said.
Some of the agencies supplied by the food bank in Concord are the Friendly Kitchen, the First Congregational Church food pantry and the Salvation Army food pantry.
The area of the state consistently with the highest demand for food assistance is Coos County, Wilson said. Within the county, the food bank distributes food to agencies in Berlin, Colebrook, Lancaster, Pittsburg and Whitefield.
In 2013, a total about 8.5 million pounds of food were distributed across the state by the food bank. In recent years, the amount of food distributed has increased annually, according to the food bank’s statistics. The Manchester-based food bank, a program of Catholic Charities of New Hampshire, is in its 30th year.
(Susan Doucet can be reached at 369-3309, email@example.com or on Twitter @susan_doucet.)
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