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August 03. 2013 8:04PM

NH Food Bank could be out of food within days

MANCHESTER - At a time when some may be looking to stock up on food to get through a vacation week, the executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank is hoping for enough donations just to make it through five days.

Executive Director Melanie Gosselin said the food bank's supply is "extremely low," at a time when they are seeing increased demand from residents across the state.

"Right now, we have enough inventory to cover about five days," said Gosselin on Friday.

Gosselin said that summer is always a difficult time for the food bank, which collects and distributes donated food items to food pantries and programs around the state.

"This time of year is always tough for us," said Gosselin. "Kids are out of school on summer break, and so they are no longer receiving meals through the school lunch programs. That changes the number of meals people are looking for. And it's always a tough time of year for donations, too - a lot of people take vacations and aren't around."

Gosselin said this summer has been tougher than most.

"Our grocery partners, the retail stores that typically donate large amounts of food to us that has reached a sell-by date without being sold, they are trying to successfully run a business," said Gosselin. "They're tightening things up, lowering inventories, looking to stay competitive. We understand that, but at the same time it means there is less left over for donations, which affects how much we have on hand to distribute."

Donations from grocery stores are down between 3 percent and 5 percent this year compared with last, said Gosselin. She said requests for food over the first six months of 2013 are running 6 percent higher than this time last year.

"Need for these resources is rising," said Gosselin.

There could be less of those resources in the near future. According to a report from the Administration on Aging, the federal sequestration program would cut the amount of federal funding for nutrition services for elders in the state, programs like Meals on Wheels, by nearly 5 percent. According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the local Meals on Wheels program lost $81,113 in funding in Fiscal Year 2014. That equates to 7,770 fewer meals delivered and 6,540 fewer meals served at Meals on Wheels locations.

Gosselin said the food bank serves about 143,000 people in the state. She said the best way for people to help restock the shelves is to make a financial contribution, because the organization has contracts for food at prices lower than costs at retailers.

For more information about helping, call 669-9725 or visit nhfoodbank.org. Monetary donations can be made through the website.pfeely@unionleader.com



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